The Salvation Army Articles of Faith
Before you begin reading …
Our faith and practice are rooted in the Bible, personal experience and the Christian heritage. Salvation Army doctrine is part of that heritage, and it too is built upon the foundation of the biblical text as interpreted by the people of God. No matter how people interpret the Bible, there is no way of getting around the fact that the Scriptures always point back to the basic truths as shown in these “The Articles of Faith.”
This page is about our Salvation Army doctrine. We explore the 11 Articles of Faith in brief which since 1878 have been the basis of The Salvation Army’s witness to the Christian Gospel, showing how they are rooted in the Holy Bible, the greatest book in all the world. It also provides opportunities to consider how the articles are intimately related to the personal faith of every Salvationist along with the witness and fellowship of the Salvationist community.
Some people may wonder why Salvationists place such emphasis upon a written statement of faith. At the heart of Christianity is the believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ, which is deeply personal and may often elude definition. Yet it is also inescapably communal and will flourish best in fellowship with other believers. For Salvationists (Soldiers or members of The Salvation Army) belief and action have always intertwined: “Soup, Soap and Salvation.” Through the centuries the Church has learned to express the common experience of faith, in ways that are consistent with the biblical witness, through creeds and our statements of faith.
Hence, our Salvation Army Articles of Faith express the common experience of our faith with our roots clearly in the Wesleyan tradition. The articles bear a striking similarity in words and content to Methodist New Connexion doctrines, which can be traced back to 1838 (Appendix 2). William Booth was an ordained minister of the New Connexion, whose founders claimed their doctrines to be ‘those of Methodism, as taught by Mr. Wesley’. In 1865 William Booth adopted seven articles of belief for the fledgling Christian Mission. Three more were added in 1870 and the last, now doctrine
nine, in 1876. Each point of faith can be traced back to the Bible (4004 B.C.-68 A.D.) on up to the recent New Connexion documents.
Although we are trying to give you an overview of our statements of faith, this is in no way, an exhaustive explanation or treatise, but a summary. Please talk with the pastors (officers) about getting a Bible or full volume of this helpful document.
There are Salvation Army Classes available during the spring and fall semesters of each year at Salvation Army Corps. Please contact us to register for the next session. We will be happy to talk with you. Thank you for your time and interest.
Sincerely with blessings and peace,
Majors Jon and Kim Welch
1. Word of the Living God
We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
The Bible is the life-source-book of both the Christian faith and Christian practice. Our faith therefore finds its definition and defense in Scripture. The history of doctrine demonstrates the ways in which the Church has understood, interpreted and communicated biblical truth. The first article is a primary statement that establishes the Bible as the foundation and sourcebook for Christian doctrine. The Bible is a book with many books written by many writers, all inspired (Godbreathed) to write the Divine Truth which is the inerrant, infallible Word of God (I Thessalonians 2:13). The 39 books of the Old and 27 books of the New Testaments are the only true written authority of God. The Bible, the written revelation of truth in history, arts, math and the sciences, is the guide for Christian living (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). In its pages we encounter the living God of history and from its teachings we learn to live in relationship with Him, each other and creation.
2. Creator of heaven and earth
We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” Genesis record shows the infinite Creator of everything that is ‘good.’ The birth of the universe was by His sovereign will and purpose in which God continues to sustain to this day. The holy God not only created, but preserves and governs with His natural laws. Therefore, we are here not by chance or accident, but by divine intent and authority. All things visible and invisible were spoken into being by the One and only loving God. We are privileged and called to worship Him daily realizing our existence is due to His gracious gift of life and being.(Ex.3:1-6,Deu.6:4-5;2Kings13:23;Jon.3:10;Mark12:29-31)
3. The God who is never alone
We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and coequal in power and glory.
God is One and at the same time Three. Christians worship One God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the Trinity, which is essential to an understanding of God as revealed in the Bible and is basic to the Christian faith. The three-person or triune God is continually revealing Himself to us: A loving, sovereign Father enthroned on high, a suffering Son in flesh understands us and our deepest need and an intimate Holy Spirit indwells in each believer to comfort, cleanse and empower. The New Testament tells us that the Spirit bears witness to Jesus (John 15:26), Jesus Christ reveals the Father (Matt.11:25-27; John 14:8-14) testifies to the Spirit (John 14:16, 26), Father and Spirit testify to the Son “…this is My Son, with Him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17).
4. God’s eternal Son
We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God, and truly and properly man.
Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is central to Christian experience and witness (Rom. 10:9-13). Jesus Christ is God and man (hence Son of God, Son of Man) who reigns with God the Father and with God the Holy Spirit. We recognize God’s perfect will and purpose in His virgin birth, life, death and resurrection, ascension and His second coming. He participated in creation and in Him we hear God’s Living Word and we see God’s glory (John 1;17:1-5; 1 Tim.3:16).
5. Distorted image
We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their \purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
Human life is sacred because we are created in the image of God and are purposed to love, worship, serve and enjoy Him and each other forever. However, rebellion of heart, mind, will and action turned over our innocent state which brought death in life, in relationship and a curse on all of the “good” creation. The symptoms of the sin curse can be seen in the world today through divisions, disasters and death. The result of the sinful nature in humanity opens the door to a distorted image or view of self, neighbors, our environment and God. Our choice ends in complete separation from God and friends.
6. Atonement through Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
God came as Jesus to rescue our fallen world. The Cross of Jesus Christ stands at the very heart of the Christian faith. It is the greatest revelation of the love of God. Through Jesus’sufferings, the separation caused by sin is bridged. Once and for all, Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the way for humanity to be reunited back to the loving God. This reconciliation is called the Atonement (literally making at one). God has taken the initiative in providing the way. It remains with us to respond to the divine provision by repentance and faith in order to experience the personal benefit of reconnecting with God and renewing the intended fellowship.
7. The process of salvation
We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
Realizing our need for a personal experience of salvation we repent of our rebellious ways and accept Jesus by faith. Repentance deals with my life turning away from the old (past) life and turning toward the new way. We consider the blessings received when, by our response to God’s grace, Christ becomes alive in us. If you come to God in true repentance and faith you will discover the overwhelming reality of His freely offered forgiveness. The result is a transformation of life: a revolution that can only be described as regeneration. (Romans 10:9-10) By faith we die to the old way of life and come alive unto Christ thru the power of the Holy Spirit. And thus, we become new creations in Christ Jesus.
8. The nature of salvation
We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
If the transforming grace brought about by the Atonement is to save us, we must experience the power of the universal work of Christ on the cross for ourselves. This comes about, not just by understanding the doctrine, but by trusting in the God who saves. God’s continual grace which is His gift declares us ‘righteous’ or ‘just’ because of our faith in Jesus. When we believe, the Holy Spirit witnesses to our spirit His assurance.
9. Maintaining salvation
We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
The word generally used to describe becoming a Christian is conversion, a change of direction, an about-turn, a change of heart. It means entering into a new relationship with God in which unbelief is replaced by belief and trust, resulting in new life. This new relationship brings great joy and other blessings.
There is open communication between the individual and God: the pain of separation is past. We are aware of new desires for good and new power to realize them. We enjoy a sense of confidence in God’s presence and feel that we are part of a new family. We long for more of God and his reality in our present and our future.
However, freedom to live by grace includes freedom to turn away again. When a believer habitually forgets God, rebels or does not ‘remain in the True Vine’ backsliding is possible. We are saved to serve not to stray away. God’s purpose in saving us is to create in us the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the true image of God, so that we may ‘participate in the divine nature’. How can we re-reject the very purpose for being saved -- to glorify God as Christ’s disciple? May we continue in obedience by regular prayer, Bible Study, worship, witness, fellowship and following what God’s will is for our life. Acts and attitudes of obedience exercise our faith so we may grow stronger; but we must never mistake salvation by works.
We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [ I Thessalonians 5:23]
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) When a crisis occurs we are motivated for change. These crisis experiences bring the believer to full surrender to the will of God which continues in a process of holy living. ‘Walking in the Spirit’ cannot occur unless the initial crisis of salvation is personally claimed. As the Holy Spirit lives in the believer, His presence and power purifies and gives victory: Conformity to the nature of God (love) and “to be like Jesus” is the holy life.
11. Kingdom of the risen Lord
We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
Our hope in life after death is in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus who has conquered sin, death and hell. God’s intent for us is restored for eternity because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross and the empty grave. God does not “send” us to hell, but we all choose the eternal preference of whether we want heaven which is accepting God or hell which is rejecting God. In other words, the “endless punishment” is torment without God, goodness and friends versus the “eternal happiness” of those who believe and have accepted God’s gracious gift of life through Christ Jesus the Lord.
A Salvationist view of the Church
Of this Great Church (people) of the Living God we claim, and have ever claimed, that we of The Salvation Army are an integral part and element – a living fruit-bearing branch in ‘the True Vine.’ (John 15) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24, 25). You are more than welcomed to attend our worship services and Bible Studies to find out more about God, yourself and the Army. May God richly bless you as you discover that Jesus is the way for life today and for eternity. The Salvation Army wants you to know that we will always be available for you: Whether for crisis assistance, counsel, and visit or just to have someone listen.