Salvation Army Heresy!

by David J. Stewart

       There is no question that General William Booth did much good by founding the Salvation Army. However, I have a serious problem doctrinally with the official position of the Salvation Army on salvation. They teach...

“We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.”

SOURCE: 1878 Foundation Deed Of The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army follows the heresy of their founders, William and Catherine Booth, who considered salvation a “state” that could be lost if one failed to continue in obedient faith. May I say, salvation is NOT a “state,” it is a new birth. It is a second birth, a spiritual birth. The teaching that salvation is a “state” that is conditional upon “continued obedient faith” is demonic works-salvation. The believer's salvation is secure in Christ's finished work of redemption. The blood has been applied to the heavenly mercy seat (Hebrews 9:12,24). The price has been paid.

I KNOW I am saved because eternal life is rooted in the PROMISES of God (Titus 1:2); and not upon how good I'm doing in life as a believer. My salvation is secure in Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with my efforts. Eternal life is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). A gift has no strings attached. Our part is simply to trust upon the name of Jesus. God does the saving (John 1:12-13).

The implication is that salvation can be lost by not continuing in faith. I believe this teaching was more out of ignorance of the Bible than anything else. I believe that William Booth was a true believer and that those in the salvation Army are saved; but they do adhere to the heresy that salvation can be lost. Salvation is a free gift from God, which cannot be lost. Those who claim to no longer be Christians were never saved in the first place. 1st John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." If saved, always saved.

The Salvation Army is vague on exactly what they believe. If they believe as John MacArthur teaches that,

“The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny” (Hard to Believe, p. 93).

...then that is a false gospel of works salvation. Lordship Salvation is a lie of the Devil, NOT based upon the Word of God. 

If, however, the Salvation Army simply believes that a person must continue to have faith in Christ, apart from all works, then that's a different story. Howbeit, it's not Biblically accurate because a true believer will NEVER lose faith in Christ. A person who claims to have lost faith never had faith to begin with. They may have found the philosophy of Christianity for awhile. They may have joined a church for awhile. But they only had churchianity without Christianity.

The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is a FREE GIFT of God (Romans 5:15,6:23;Ephesians 2:8-9). A gift cannot have any strings attached if it is a genuine gift. To teach that a believer has to continue in “obedient faith in Christ” is incorrect doctrine. Salvation occurs in a split second, the very moment you believe upon Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Once you're saved, you can NEVER lose your salvation. If someone professes that they are no longer a Christian, then it is only because they weren't a Christian to begin with. The spiritual birth is as irreversible as the physical birth.

Ironically, pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) was a captain in the Salvation Army and he strongly taught the Eternal Security of the Believer. I am a big fan of Pastor Ironside and he was doctrinally correct in my opinion. It is sad that the Salvation Army's doctrinal statement doesn't reflect this important doctrine of the Christian faith. A correctly understood gospel—salvation by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Christ's finished work alone—mandates eternal security. On the other hand, if one is trusting in one's works or a "commitment" to perform works or to live a certain way to be saved, then salvation cannot be assured, and the doctrine of eternal security is either negotiable or is denied.

Here are the words of Dr. Harry Ironside, who had it exactly right . . .

"WHEN THE LEGALIST comes insisting that salvation is by obedience to God's holy law (which in itself is just and good), he is preaching another gospel, for the Word of God declares, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight." 

SOURCE: Dr. Harry Ironside, from the Gospel tract, Another Gospel?

In total contrast, the Salvation Army teaches a form of religious legalism, and I quote...

"We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ."

SOURCE:  Official doctrinal statement of the Salvation Army

Continuance? Continued obedient faith? The TRUTH from God's Word is that you DON'T have to continue doing anything to remain saved. Once you've been born again, you've been born again!!! Once you get saved, your relationship is forever settled in heaven. You are God's child and He is your Heavenly Father. Though our fellowship with God may be broken due to sin, our position in Christ never changes. Salvation is not of mankind, but is of God. Salvation is receiving, not giving. Our only part in salvation is only to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:40; Acts 16:31). God does all the rest. 

Please don't be deceived by the Devil's lie my friend, you don't have to give up anything to be saved. There's a lot of heretics running around ADDING repentance from works to simple faith in Christ. We call 'em the "Lordship Salvation" crowd. Now please don't misunderstand me, being saved doesn't give us God's permission to sin; but God's simple plan of salvation does NOT require us to do anything more than believe upon Christ to forgive our sins. Salvation is simple (2nd Corinthians 11:3). The whole idea of a "gift" is that it is completely free. Romans 5:18, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Salvation is a FREE GIFT! 

Anyone who comes as a guilty sinner, condemned under God's Holy Law, and trusts upon the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive their sins will be saved. Acts 10:43 states: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Whether they "continue in obedient faith" or not is irrelevant to their salvation. The Bible is filled with examples of carnal believers who continued in sinful living, such as the sexually immoral man in 1st Corinthians 5:1-5... Paul told the church at Corinth to address the issue... "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (verse 5). Salvation is without works. Eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23), freely given (Romans 5:15) and freely received (Revelation 22:17).

Salvation Army in Bed With Rome