What are the features of The Salvation Army that stand distinct from sister denominations and other Christian families? The answer is often expressed in that quite wonderfully evocative word, “Salvationism.”
This is a unique concept quite likely to elicit a wide variety of responses when one is pressed to define it during a coffee conversation. And yet, interestingly, “Salvationism” is deeply part of our self–understanding. Enrolled soldiers covenant to “show the spirit of Salvationism.”
When in doubt, turn to the trusty Handbook of Doctrine, where Salvationism is mentioned in four ways:
- Mission is the very essence of Salvationism
- Salvationism is the task of calling people to new life in Jesus Christ
- In holiness teaching one finds the very essentials of Salvationism … the intimate relationship between spirituality and service
- A permanent mission to the unsaved and the marginalized
Here we see broad values that embody evangelism, holiness, and social action. Thus, Salvationism is encompassing and precise; wide–ranging in latitude, specific in focus.
General Shaw Clifton writes, “It is what makes us who we are. It is about our pulse, our heartbeat.” Maybe for flavoring, I would say Salvationism adds romance, a flair for the dramatic, and a penchant for ingenuity into the mix.
What do you think? Fire a volley?