YES. Not everyone is ready to sign up for this radical commitment. By calling everyone to the same standard, we don't make room for people who want to belong before they believe.


For me, growing up in The Salvation Army meant learning to play an instrument. My earliest childhood memories include sitting in the trombone section beside my father. This is not a testimony to my musical inclinations, but rather a practical child care solution for my mother who had three young children.

By the time I was seven, I was ready for the junior band. That seemed only natural to me. My father played in the band, my grandfather played in the band, my uncles played in the band, so I should play in the band. But first I had to sign my name to the junior soldier pledge. I'm sure there were preparation classes, I just don't remember them.

In my teens, I was allowed to play in the senior band on Sundays. That was great! It sure made going to church easier, and I could still be with my friends. The only catch was that I had to become a senior soldier and put on the uniform. I didn't see it as a problem. I wanted to play in the band, and to do that I needed to become a soldier.

Looking back, it's obvious to me that life in the Army followed a certain pattern: when I affirmed that I believed the right things, and I stated that I would behave the right way, then I was given the privilege to officially belong.

There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to belong. God himself longs for community. In fact, the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—demonstrates that community is part of God's very nature. And because we are made in his image (see Genesis 1:26), God has stamped the desire for community deep within our being.

In our modern culture, however, the desire to belong is emerging much earlier than the decision to believe or behave. Allow me to illustrate with an example.

One day I received a phone call from a businessman who said, “Hello, my name is Bill. I belong to your church.” I told him I hadn't met him yet, to which he responded, “That's because I haven't started coming yet!” Not long after, Bill and his family started to attend our church, inspired by one of his family members who attended The Salvation Army in a different community. Bill was unsure of what he believed and his conduct lacked Christlikeness. But he was responding to a God-given desire to belong. And God was working in his life, even if he didn't know it yet.

What does it mean to belong? None of us would restrict Bill from attending worship until he sorts out his beliefs and behaviour. But what if he wants to get involved in ministry? What if he wants to “test drive” this journey with Jesus? How far down the road do we let that go? Would we allow him to play in the band, participate in community care ministry or serve on the corps mission board? What about our rules on soldiership?

For many years The Salvation Army has followed the “believe, behave and belong” system. Today, however, many people are asking, “Will you let me belong while I sort out what I believe and how to behave?”

Most of us grew up with a Christian worldview. It was understood that Christians behaved in a certain way. You would hear people say, “I made the decision to become a Christian so I stopped smoking” or “I had to get married because Christian couples don't live together before marriage.”

Today the Christian worldview is in competition with many other belief systems. This has made people much more skeptical. When people approach Christianity they don't want rational arguments. Instead, they want experiential evidence. “Show me the reality of Christ in your life,” they say.

Soldiership is the Army's metaphor for belonging. But it's more than just membership, it is a sacred covenant. The Soldier's Covenant calls for the highest commitment to discipleship. The problem is, it is increasingly difficult to hold soldiers to their commitments, such as participation in ministry, financial giving and growing in Christlikeness. Perhaps this is because we lack clarity on the meaning and purpose of soldiership. Or perhaps we've simply watered down our expectations. In any case, this ambiguity has effectively silenced much of soldiership's power and witness.

Is the problem more fundamental? Soldiership fits naturally with the old “believe, behave and belong” philosophy. While many are ready to be disciples of Jesus, the language of the Soldier's Covenant becomes a sticking point. It positions The Salvation Army as the covenant holder rather than the vehicle by which this commitment is expressed. Perhaps that's why, relatively speaking, the number of adherents is growing while our soldier rolls are shrinking.

Today's generation is not interested in “signing up.” They don't want lifelong membership. They say, “Show me who you are by your actions, not by your clothing or a piece of paper.”

If soldiership is to continue to have a place in our Movement, it must first of all be a call to radical discipleship and not merely a symbol of membership. It must point to and be intimately connected with the One for whom we are called to lay down our lives. If we can recapture this essence, then soldiership has a future. If not, it's no longer of value.

Major Ron Cartmell is the corps officer at Kelowna Community Church and area commander–Interior Region, B.C. Division.

NO. There is still a war to be waged. We need people who are willing to fight for justice. Soldiership is the essence of the gospel.


In July 1861, the first of the major battles of the American Civil War between the union and the confederacy was fought at Bull Run, a stream near the town of Manassas Junction.

The American people assumed the whole idea of the civil war was just a passing phase and many people came out with their lawn chairs and picnic baskets to watch the first battle. I'm not kidding. What everyone discovered—to their horror—was that there was nothing cute or short or fashionable about this conflict. It would turn out to be the bloodiest war in American history.

The Bible is clear that we are engaged in a war—not a physical war with guns and bullets, but a very real spiritual war. Ephesians 6:10-17 says we fight against principalities, rulers and authorities. Paul even explains how to soldier up with spiritual equipment. Jesus never invited spectators. He wanted disciples. He wanted people who would fight (actively engage the enemy) for God's Kingdom to come. He gave his disciples authority over the enemy and said that he himself had come to destroy the devil's work (see 1 John 3:8). He was the ultimate freedom fighter. The Salvation Army was raised up as a clear response to that call from Jesus. William Booth said, “Salvationism is simply this: the banishment of wickedness from the face of the earth.” What is needed in a war are people who are willing to fight. We call them soldiers.

Is soldiership outdated? An old metaphor? The only way that soldiership is outdated is if the war isn't real. Even asking the question could put us in danger of being arrogant or ignorant enough to believe that there is some cute, easy and metaphorical war being waged and that we can simply find a pew in a lovely community church down the street from our cul-de-sac and watch the entertainment.

Sometimes I think we are in danger of missing the real gospel. In The Call, Os Guiness suggests there is only one call of Jesus, “Come follow me.” There isn't some mystical sacred specialness of an “ordained clergy”—some super spirituality that endows itself upon “certain and chosen” few … there is a clear trumpet call to anyone and everyone who would take the words of Jesus seriously and answer THE call. This is the point of soldiership. It's meant to boil the gospel down to its essence. We aren't spectators. This isn't a cute, metaphorical war—it's the real thing. We are called to help, to enlist, to fight. This is the call of true discipleship and our great heritage of Salvationism.

I know there are many people who find it difficult to believe that we are in a war. And this I find staggering. In these days and times, it almost feels like a willful blindness. Extreme poverty is taking hundreds of thousands of lives every day; children and women are being bought and sold like disposable items at a flea market in a dark and evil sex trade that grows at an unprecedented rate; children are being sold into slavery to make clothes and items in developing countries that we buy on sale and don't ask why they are so cheap. Even in our nice suburban homes, Western society smells of depression, suicide, divorce and bankruptcy; executives of excessive capitalism keep pushing economic gains over ethical purity at the expense of the poor; life is snuffed out at its most fragile and innocent state for the convenience of the strong hundreds of thousands of times every day. Does that sound like a passing phase? A short battle? Dinner theatre?

I remember reading Lt-General Roméo Dallaire's autobiography, Shake Hands With the Devil, in which he recalls his role as Canadian Armed Forces commander amid the horror and evil of the Rwandan genocide. His account is fascinating because although he is a soldier he was not authorized to fight. And so, caught in a bureaucracy of niceties and United Nations lunches and coffee breaks where they discussed whether peacekeeping soldiers were really meant to use force, he watched as almost one million people were murdered in one month. Women, children, men—hundreds of thousands of bodies butchered in churches and in schools. In the end, the hardest thing for him wasn't the massacre—it was that he could have helped. He should have been a soldier, not a spectator.

So should we. Soldiers are not members. The Salvation Army is not a club. Neither are metaphors. This spiritual war is real. I'd suggest we fold up our lawn chairs and leave our discussions over lunch and get ready to join the fight—war is raging. Think of the people we could save, the misery we could stop, the hope we could offer. Think of the light we could be—changing the world for good, bringing peace, “not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice” (Martin Luther King Jr.). Be a soldier, not a spectator.

Major Danielle Strickland is the corps officer at Edmonton Crossroads Community Church.


On Sunday, October 13, 2013, Jennifer Cloke said:

I don't see the two views as being opposing it is simply a question of the use of language I believe that both sit 'hand in glove' with each other.
We need for people to belong and really to feel that they are wanted, worthy and useful.

We want our soldiers to be out and out Salvationist fighting the battle against Satan - a battle that is very real.

While adherency is seen by some as 'second class' and while many soldiers are merely members not 'fighting soldiers' we have weakened both.

I have sat in Corps Councils where DCs have removed soldiers for whatever reason (that bit doesn't matter) and proceeded to make them adherents and in one specific case then took an adherent off the roll for the same thing .

There is a real push for adherents to become soldiers fairly quickly, like soldiership is the real class of membership instead of accepting the adherency part of their journey as being valid for now.

When I make soldiers and they 'don' uniform I want them to be available for service - fully equipped soldiers - I would rather defer soldier ship until I knew they were ready,

Maybe if we strengthen adherency and acknowledge all who feel that they are a Salvo, then this distinction in membership won't be such an issue.

I recently trained a group of Community Care workers the majority of whom were thrift shop volunteers - I have supplied Community Care photo ID tags to all and those thrift shop volunteers who aren't yet members felt so good and valued to be wearing a tag with a Red Shield on it - we thanked them and acknowledged them - the reality is that this corps would not be viable without the work of these good folk and the extraordinary amount of money they bring to the mission of the corps.

Because they feel that they belong they are more likely to come to other things and to find out about Jesus through that connection.

The training includes teaching about what the Army believes, our mission and values, so they got to hear about God's love, about Jesus dying on the cross, about the Spirit guiding presence.

And one day they may become soldiers but not if we don't first welcome them.

In the meantime we accept all the gifts, skills and passion of everyone who fellowships with us and watch as God works a miracle in their life.
I heard a great story at Doncaster corps - there were standards set but participation was welcome and God is changing him from the inside out - let's not debate this ad an either or, but reach out in the way Christ modelled and we can reach out in His name and with His arms if we see every person through the eyes of Jesus after all, He loves them and died for them just as they are now.

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, Adrian Dinsmore said:

Interesting comments, and as an ex salvo probably need to agree more with Major Cartmell. Both sides have valid views. However, I do have a major problem with the attitude and the assumptions of Major Strickland. They are arrogant and narrow minded. Yes we are in a war. ALL Christians are a part of that war. The assumption that uniformed soldiership is the standard needed to fight that war is wrong. To assume that all other churches members simply sit in pews is inaccurate. I have many Christian friends from other denominations who are engaged in radical, frontline mission. Many church members are fully engaged in the spiritual war. Yes, some sit on the side lines. Some of those sitting there are uniformed soldiers. Meanwhile, there are adherents within TSA who are on fire for the Lord. You dont need to wear a uniform to be on need to love God. I can't help feeling that the good Major is one of those small band of SA officers who believe the centre of Christianity is their local DHQ. Given that she operates in a country where there are 5 adherents for every 2 soldiers, Major Strickland would do well to remember that from a spiritual standpoint, there is no difference between a converted adherent and a converted soldier, and given the alarming decline in soldiership, maybe she should show more grace to those who do not wear a uniform and wave the flag!

On Thursday, April 28, 2011, Daniel Giversen said:

@Gary Compton: As I stated above, there is three sides of this question:

As I understand what you say, you hardly disagree about the doctrinal part, because soldiership in this tense is dedicated soldiership. William Booth did not split from wesleyan methodism - he branched from the methodist church, partly because his call was travelling evangelist, not parish minister; and partly because he objected to the organisation of that branch of congregational methodism he belonged to - he wanted to return to the revival style of the wesleyan brothers with open air meetings etc. And he coined the word soldiership, when he was methodist General Superintendent (ordinary supervisor=local minister) to state, that being christian is not just fun and comfort, but dedicated discipleship, just as Paul described it.

For the structural part, it hardly differs from episcopal and papal churches, where you can compare with priests, (arch)bishops, kardinals and Popes/Patriarchs. As such Salvation Army has devoloped from a revival movement into an organized chuch, for better and for worse.

Regarding the uniform, well most churches has some kind of clergy, deacon and choir garments. Since the use of military terms became a conclusion, due to e.g. Bramwell Booth rejecting being a volunteer - the love of Christ forced him - he was a regular or nothing - military garments was an obvious result - and though the Army got a laugh here and there - the militaric organinsation proved to be fruitful in winning lost souls. And some of us have grown to love this style. As a matter of fact you see former clerical militaristic orders e.g. the Order of Saint John turning into charity organisations whie keeping their ranks - so obviously the idea is more universal, than the Salvation Army.

In the end this discussion hardly is about wether we should continue to be the Salvation Army or not, but how we tacle the issues that we face today - as methodism of William Booths days, the Salvation Army has developed into a church. In some places we speak of halt and retreat. The question is how we soften the organisation and avoid secterism in order to be more fruitful and dynamic in evangelism - and of course some of us would not feel at home if we threw away everything of the past to tasteful good in the eyes of the world.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, Gary Compton said:

I read with interest the discussion between Ron Cartmell and Danielle Strickland concerning the concept of soldiership.

Like many who hold a dichotomous view of the world, Danielle Strickland's arguments lack any degree of subtlety. There are many aspects to war, not the least of which is the support given by those who do not actually engage the enemy directly.

Here in the United States, advisory boards, made up primarily of non-Salvationists, many of whom are the beneficiaries of "excessive capitalism" (sic), give of their time, talent and treasure to fight poverty, homelessness and addiction. I can think of the Ray and Joan Kroc community centers that have opened at the point of need throughout many major American cities. Untold thousands will be reached for the Kingdom in this manner.

Why haven't these advisotry board members become soldiers? Maybe they don't "behave" (i.e. take a drink), or, most likely, they belong elsewhere. Perhaps the cute and easy community church down the street? By posturing her tone in a manner that is condescending to the point of insult, Major Strickland hinders reasonable dialogue. (I still don't understand the 19th-century Victorian military usage of ranks, other than to create some degree of superiority between soldiers and officers, but that is another exegesis)

It is interesting to note that most Salvation Army "Corps" (a military term) are now called community churches. The slippery slope towards metaphorical mediocrity is in full swing. What will become of us?

Gary Compton
Wesley Chapel FL

On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, Daniel Giversen said:

@I am a Soldier too: Actually I don't think we disagree that much. The youth needs plenty of guidance to take a stand in a lot of decissions arising, when you are teenager. I absolute don't hope any of us neglect that part. What I advocate for, is based on both personal experience and people from my own generation. Of course there is differences depending on culture. Until the fifties, you became a "grown up" at age 13, because you had confirmed your faith at church and had your first job, thereby learning the harsh realities of life, which matured you. But then we introduced a concept called teenagers, who was supposed to get educated, and the youth became matured at a slower speed, which was kind of okay, since many people got older, too. Additionally after the millenium, we have introduced "tweens".

What we haven't realised is, that the change also implicates the maturity to decide a final comitment on soldiership. That's why I suggest making Corps Cadet a rank instead of a subrank of both Junior Soldiership and Senior Soldiership. Thus Junior soldiers would be the tween group, Corps Cadets the teen group and Senior Soldiers the grown-up group. We would benefit because we could make targetted education material, that both offered guidance in the troublesome period, when the teenagers are finding out who they are; and encouraged greater commitment without pushing too fast. We'd make a culture of growing from milk to solid food, without ending up with fast food instead.

On Monday, April 18, 2011, I am a Soldier too said:

I have been teaching Senior Soldier preparation classes for a number of years both to young people and older adults. I believe that everyone who calls their church The Salvation Army should
take these classes, not only to be enrolled as a soldier, but to know first hand what we believe. I begin each class with prayer and thank them for their interest in attending. I tell them that though they take the classes they are not obligated to be enrolled as soldiers, that is their decision and I do not pressure anyone to so. I remind the young people that it would be to their benefit because if their friends asked them what their church believes in they need to be able to tell them. I leave no stone unturned in these classes. I tell it like it is and remind them that it's not always easy. It's amazing how some of them open up and ask questions. Not all of them get enrolled but that's okay, at least they know what their church beleives. I honestly don't know what all the fuss is about. When I was growing up the Roman Catholic church said, " give us a child until they are seven years old and they are ours for life". I don't know if that holds true today, but maybe so because we all know they are very staunch in their faith. Why is 14 years old too young to teach our young people what we believe? The world certainly doesn't believe they are too young when people go after our precious young people to take drugs, have sex and do whatever else they want them to do. I get sick just thinking about such foolishness. In society even at 12 years old they can make up their own mind as to what they want to do but 14 years old is too young in the church. Give me a break. Of course I realize some are more mature than others but adults are like that too. Surely goodness we can give them the benefit of the doubt and at least teach them. They are not too young to be taught things at school why are they too young at church. I got saved when I was 5 years old. I didn't understand everything about salvation and far from it but as I grew older I learned more about what it means, I nerver forgot the Sunday morning I made that decision in a holiness meeting and I was the only child that knelt at the altar. Teaching what our doctrine means could make a good holiness message on Sunday morning. Teach it one way or another as long as it's taught.

On Monday, April 11, 2011, Karen Osborne said:

@ Daniel Giversen Thank you! And greetings to you in the name of our Lord! How delightful to hear from a brother in another part of the world! :-) Thank you for giving me this information. I will definitely check out Orders & Regulations for Soldiers. I have read Prophet of the Poor and a biography of Katherine Booth which I borrowed because it is no longer in print sadly. I try to live my life as a constant testimony to all who are watching because my life lived out may be the only Bible they will ever see. Thank you for the encouragement to continue doing that. Sometimes the weight of bearing Christ's name across my shoulders is very heavy; I am very much a sinner saved only by His grace and His blood. May I never forget that truth! Thanks for teaching me about these things.

On Friday, April 8, 2011, Daniel Giversen said:

@Karen Osborne: "I only learned last year that Senior Soldiers are expected to renew their vows regularly." I can't say anything about canadian standards, only danish. Back when my parents were young they had to have their soldiers passes stamped about every 3rd month. But it isn't required today. But every soldier is supposed to give testimony about their savior at any given occasion, and that is a practical way of renewing your wow.

"how the heck does one find out the meaning of the elements of the crest and the flag,...?"

"Orders and regulations for soldiers" as well as "Salvation Story" ought to be the basic books of "Soldiership classes" (recruit education). I believe symbols as well as doctrine is review thoroughly within these books. If you haven't read them when you became soldier please do. Btw. the flag represents purity (blue) when Jesus has given us his righteousness and the heart is cleansed, the blood of Jesus (red) that cleansed our hearts and the fire of The Holy Spirit (yellow star). In the crest, you see the colours and the star again. S is for salvation. The swords represents the sword of The Holy Spirit, The cross is the faith and redemption. The balls are the thruth of the Bible (not limited to seven statements). And at last the crown of victory, we expect to recieve in the world to come.

"...the number and roles of local officers and how their roles came to be?"
For the origin my best guess is reading books about William Booth and the early days of the Salvation Army e.g. Scott Railtons book on William Booth. The purpose of sergeants etc. is like elders and deacons. Fulltime officers are like ministers an bishops - staff leaders like archbishops/cardinals and the general is elected likewise as the pope. What really distincts Salvation Army from some churches is not the uniform and symbolism - soldiership is dedicated discipleship and all soldiers are either laypreachers and/or serving in other nescessary fields of the salvation war. And the goal should be that whenever someone is promoted to glory, another fills his/her place and the army ought to be growing, since the need is just as bad, as 100 years ago.

"Forward march we shout through the battle.
All men and women we invite
from broad roads and narrow alleys:
Now onward to the fight:
We wander together
to change the world.
Time is passing, the world is suffering -
We have no more tilme for breaks.
Jesus calls us to the battle -
we must increase the effort.
Hear our cry: the time is short.
Onward to the fight!"

On Thursday, April 7, 2011, Kevin Osborne said:

Bramwell Booth, who became the next General after William Booth said, "I'm no volunteer in this Army. I'm a regular." He aligned himself with the true depth of commitment that should be expected of anyone who wears The Salvation Army uniform. When I put on my uniform it never feels light. It reminds me every time of the God who called me almost 30 years ago into The Salvation Army. It was not an easy uniform to wear then nor is it now.

When I gave my life to Christ at the mercy-seat at The Salvation Army North York Temple under the leadership of then Captain Max Feener, I did so without reserve. I knew in my heart that God was calling me into the trenches to fight a battle for souls. I was not signing up for some country club membership where I could pick and choose those avenues of ministry that were the most comfortable for me. I was signing up to enter a war where the Enemy was taking souls, and God wanted them back.

Soldiership is not for everyone. God doesn't expect it of everyone. I have met adherents who are used by God, but don't feel comfortable with committing to soldiership. They shine the light of Christ in our thrift stores, and community outreach activities. They choose to be soldiers of the Cross without identifying themselves as being soldiers of The Salvation Army. If that's okay with God, then who are we to say otherwise?

I would like to see the importance of soldiership and its impact given more focus. I agree with Major Danielle Strickland that we need to have a radical kind of faith, which seeks justice for those who live in poverty. We also need to have a bold compassion that is ready to give a cup of cold water in His name. We need to have an active voice against injustices such as sex trafficking and slavery that sells children into a life of forced labour. These are vile acts of evil that need to be addressed.

Soldiership should also be seen as a call to humility. We are not better than others. Soldiers are sinners saved by grace.

Let us all embrace adherents, soldiers and officers with the love of Christ. We're all on the same team to spread the message of God's love to the whosoever. That is our calling. That is our commitment. That is our privilege.

On Monday, April 4, 2011, Daniel Rowe said:

I agree with Major Strickland, not so much with Major Cartmell. The reason we have Junior Soldiership and Senior Soldiership is nothing to do with age, but, spiritual maturity. The way it did work was that 14 was the age that the Army deemed one spiritually mature enough to become a Solider of the Salvation Army. One must also remember that, if correctly done, this new Soldier has taken Junior Solider classes etc. In the Canadian military, you don't automatically get promoted to Major or Lieut-Colonel just because you joined the military in your late 30's or early 40's. You start at the lowest rank, in this cause, Lieutenant, depending on which armed force you joined.

I do agree that Soldiership needs to be taken WAY more seriously then it is in the fact that the uniform represents something...not only that we know the Word, but, also that we know how to talk about the Word to others. That's what the uniform is for...and it shouldn't be used just to get into the band or the songsters which, I think, is what the uniform is being used for today.

On a personal note, and I am not saying that I am "holier then thou", however, I make it a point to wear something with "Salvation Army" on it everyday and, believe me, I have had people some up to me and ask me questions, tell me their stories, prayed with me and for me. Do you want to see the Salvation Army working? Cause I'm seeing it working everyday.

And yes...I am a Senior Soldier in GOD's Army.

God bless Major Strickland and Major Cartmall and God bless the Salvation Army.

On Monday, March 28, 2011, Karen Osborne said:

At the risk of sounding argumentative, why are we even discussing the relevance of soldiership? Perhaps I am naive or uninformed, but I thought there are are three levels of commitment available in The Salvation Army for adults. I won't discuss what is available for children as I have no knowledge about that issue at all.

With regards to adults, I thought that there are friends, adherents and soldiers. As I understand it, friends are those who are trying us out to see if what we are like. They come every now and then, testing the waters, so to speak. Then if they like what they see, they come more often, participate more, learn more and decide if they want to commit. Then they take soldiership classes and learn our doctrines. They consider whether or not such a commitment is right for them and, if it is, they become soldiers. If this is correct, it seems to me that there is lots of room for everyone to belong according to the amount of commitment they want to give.

Just a further note. I only learned last year that Senior Soldiers are expected to renew their vows regularly. The time period of that renewal seems to vary from every year to every five years, depending upon whom you speak to. This confuses me further. Surely such an important point should be laid our clearly and consistently. Further, I am wondering why our doctrines and the rights and responsibilities of soldiership don't seem to be preached upon. Have I just missed that preaching? I did not grow up in The Salvation Army. I was called in my forties so maybe I missed it all.

While we are on the subject of doing things the way The Salvation Army does things, how the heck does one find out the meaning of the elements of the crest and the flag, the number and roles of local officers and how their roles came to be? I want to know more about how things work and I don't know where to ask.

Would someone tell me again why we are debating the relevancy of soldiership when precious souls are dying and being damned wholesale? Every single Christian is called to tell about Jesus. ""'Not called!' did you say? 'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world." - William Booth - founder of the Salvation Army"

On Saturday, March 26, 2011, Daniel Giversen said:

First of all ther is no simple, universal solution to the everyday problems arising from this issue. Partly because it is more than one issue.


Structurally the problem arises because Senior Soldiership can be achieved at the age of 14 and in some corpses there is tendencies to automatic promotion to Senior Soldiership based on tradition, (uncertain) pressure, bandmembership etc. As it is today (in Denmark - as far as I remember) you can be Junior Soldier from about 6 till 18 years old, you can be Senior Soldier from about 14 years old and civil member (allows belonging, without full commitment) from 18 years old - in adition we have a co-equal rank of Corps Cadet from 12 till 25 years old and of course the former Child Brigade (0 till 5 years old) - now Child Blessing of babys. We could instead decide Junior Soldier from 6 till 12 years old, Corpse Cadet from 12 till 21 years old and Senior Soldier/Civil Member from 18 years old. It would remove the demand of youngsters taking a stand on commitment at a very young age - and the lap 18-21 years old would strengthen the possibility of personal decission of commitment. Full commitment should be in connection with a mature decission, and today very few are mature at age 14 years old.

Doctrinal. Doctrine is a bad word according to some people. But the doctrines of soldiership as well as holiness are core biblical beliefs of christianity and core goals of William Booth even before starting The Salvation Army, whereby salvationism branched from methodism. Salvationism never cut from it roots, it simply refined and revived the ministry of the Wesley brothers. Thus abondoning soldiership and holiness would mean abondoning a living, active Salvation Army.

Symbolism. Along with the soldiership, we have the uniform. Once the the uniform was a clear symbol of salvationist being servants, being a person you could confidently ccontact and confide in. But that isn't nescessarily the issue today. The uniform still functions this way, when speaking of Open Air Meetings, collection and home visits, but not always at the Sunday Service or in streetevangelisation. It is due to change of time and culture. E.g. in Germany only the officers wear uniforms at Sunday Service, because of bad feelings towards uniforms from Nazi-Germany.

On Friday, March 25, 2011, Gert Scharf said:

I agree with both majors a 100 %. Last November I have been enrolled as a soldier again, after more than 30 years of absence from the army. I "served" all these three decades in an "undercover, civil unit" - a pentecostal church and understood membership as a commitment to discipleship. Than in 2009 the Lord began to speak to my about returning to the Salvation Army, and I did return. I am wearing the uniform as a sign of commitment and showing availability to the community and I believe, whosoever is led in to the army´s felllowship, should at least ask himself, wether the Lord is looking for this special commitment of discipleship (not to salvationism) with all its consequences. Through all the decades we can see it becoming harder and harder to preach committed discipleship (holiness) to believers for several reasons. Thank God in the church I belonged to we were absolute to our beliefs of discipleship and saw people moving to more "comfortable" churches and now I see the same problem in the army, becoming less consequent and ceasing to teach "soldiership". I´m in the army again, because God wanted, expected it from me to make my soldiership public again in the sense of changing from a civil unit to an uniformed one. And I would like to encourage for example every belonger and adherent to think about further commitment as jesus is expecting it. May the grace of God help us.
Gert Scharf, Germany, Berlin Corps Berlin Sothwest.

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