OceanSide church of Christ

 Previous Return to Newsletter Articles Next 


Victor M. Eskew




A.     Most people know the Salvation Army by the good works in which it is involved.

1.      During Christmas the Salvation Army collects funds at the entrance of various stores.  The ringing bell and the green bucket are typically present.

2.      They are also involved in many other works:  Disaster relief, Drug and Alcohol Rehab, Prisoner Rehab, Elderly Services, and Youth Camps.


B.     Others know the Salvation Army due to the collection and distribution centers for used goods. 


C.     The truth is, however, that most individual do not really know the Salvation Army for what they are.  They see them merely as a charitable organization.




A.     On the official website of the Salvation Army, there is a Mission Statement posted.  It reads as follows:


The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical port of the universal Christian Church.  Its message is based on the Bible.  Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.  It mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination


B.     According to is charter issued in New York State in 1899, the Salvation Army is an organization “designed to operate as a religious and charitable corporation” whose permanent purpose “is to lead men and women into a proper relationship with God.”


C.     Thus, the Salvation Army is a church, a religious institution.  Because the name of the institution does not have church in it, many do not think of it as being a religion.




A.     The Salvation Army is the product of a man named William Booth. 


B.     Brief history

1.      William Booth lived in London, England

2.      He was originally a Methodist, specifically associated with the Methodist Reform Church.

3.      He left this church and began to minister to the hurting on the streets of London.

4.      In July, 1865, he founded what was then called “The Christian Mission.”  His followers often sang in the streets of London and became known as the “Hallelujah Army.”

5.      In 1878 the name was changed to the Salvation Army.  Mr. Booth was reading a printer’s copy of the organization’s annual report and noticed the statement:  …the Christian Mission under the Superintendent’s of Rev. William Booth is a volunteer army.”  Mr. Booth crossed out the words “volunteer army” and wrote “Salvation Army.”  That name stuck.  The followers soon became known as the “Salvationists.”

6.      In 1880, Booth sent a party of eight Salvationists, led by George Scott Railton, to officially begin the work of the Salvation Army in the United States.

a.      Today, they have about 1355 Corps, or, churches in the United States.

b.      There total membership is about 500,000.  This does not include the multitudes of people who volunteer to assist them in their efforts.




A.     In the early days of the Christian Mission, William Booth was often referred to as “the General.”  This label and the name chosen for the organization, Salvation Army, may have played a role in his structuring the organization like the military.


B.     The international leader holds the rank of General.  The present general is Linda Bond. 


C.     The ranks of lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and commissioner also exist. 


D.     In the United States, the Army is divided into four Territories, with headquarters in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco.  Each has its own commander with rank of Commissioner or Lieutenant Commissioner.  There is also a National Commander with Headquarters in New York.


E.     The National Headquarters is located in Alexandria, VA.




A.     The Salvation Army says that its message is based on the Bible.  However, there are several things that are believed and practiced by the Salvation Army that go against the teachings of the Scriptures.


B.     A list of the false doctrines taught by the Salvation Army.

1.      Total Hereditary Depravity:  man is born totally depraved within and without and lost in sin.  If this is true, God is partly responsible, for the Bible says that “God forms the Spirit of man that is within him” (Zech. 12:1).

2.      Baptism is not necessary for the salvation of man.  Jesus taught just the opposite in Mark 16:16.  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

3.      Instrumental music is used in worship.  Instruments are not commanded in the New Testament.  Only singing is commanded (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).  Instruments are an addition and are condemned (Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19).

4.      The use of women to serve in public leadership roles within the organization.  Yet, Paul teaches that women are to remain silent in the church.  He also says that it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church (I Cor. 14:34-35).  He also tells the women that they are not to usurp authority over the man (I Tim. 2:11-12).

5.      Unscriptural financing.  The Salvation Army appeals to both their membership and those who are not part of their organization to support their efforts.  The Bible teaches that the work of the church is supposed to be done through scriptural giving by members of the local congregation (I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 8:1-6; II Co. 9:7).

6.      In their worship services, they never partake of the Lord’s Supper.  They do not want people to think that it is a “rite” that has virtue in itself.  Jesus said to do this “in remembrance of me” (I Cor. 11:23-25).  The first century church partook of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

7.      Unscriptural organization:  The Bible never speaks of generals, commissioners, colonels, majors, or lieutenants that oversee the church.  The Bible tells elders to feed the church of God and take the oversight thereof (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:1-2).

8.      They have a creed book that is followed.  It is called:  The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine.  The Bible should be our one and only guide when it comes to religious matters (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Creed books create division in the religious world.  As long as the Salvation Army’s creed book exists in addition to the Word of God, there will always be Salvationists in existence instead of just Christians as authorized in God’s Word.




A.     The reality is that the Salvation Army is a man-made church that stands in opposition to the true church of Christ found in the Bible (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16)


B.     We realize that this organization may do wonderful works, but this will never change the fact that it has not been authorized by God to do His work (Matt. 7:21-23).