Is the Red Kettle no Longer a Symbol of Salvation?

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”—Galatians 1:6

Like so many other foolish individuals, the predominatelywhite leadership of the International Salvation Army has issued a document, “Let’s Talk About Race”, demanding other white people and Christians acknowledge their privileges and attitudes in America, and then apologize, not for things they have done, but for the color of their skin.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that the time would come when people were judged, not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character (“I Have a Dream”, August 28, 1963). The Critical Race Theory advocates just the opposite. It demands people “stop trying to be ‘colorblind’” and to “lament, repent and apologize” for their biases against all people of color in America, as if white is not a color, and so-called people of color cannot be racists themselves.

The leadership of the International Salvation Army has the unmitigated temerity to adopt the language of CRT, and then pontificate, in sweeping language, without context or qualification. “We must stop denying the existence of individual and systemic/institutional racism,” the materials say. “They exist, and are still at work to keep White Americans in power.”

After an immediate and righteously angry backlash by the general public that supports the Salvation Army, after many thousands of faithful donors stopped giving, after many of the foot soldiers protested by refusing to march to the drum beat of social madness of the leading officers of the Salvation Army, the offending document was taken down in November, 2021, and a statement was made.

The “guide led some to believe we think they should apologize for the color of their skin, or that The Salvation Army may have abandoned its Biblical beliefs for another philosophy or ideology. That was never our intention, so the guide has been removed for appropriate review.”

The practical problem with so many apologies is they are not true, and they are insincere. When the leadership says it was never the intention of the Salvation Army leadership to have people apologize for the color of their skin, that is hard to believe. If words have any meaning, and they do, that was the precise intent of the guide. In an environment of virtue signaling, the Salvation Army wanted to join, if not lead, the parade.

When the leadership says the Salvation Army may have abandoned its Biblical beliefs for another philosophy or ideology, the leaders are not truly sorry, or repentant. The Salvation Army did abandon its Biblical beliefs, for an ideology consistent with Black Lives Matter, and the godless secular religion of humanism and socialism. There is no maybe about the matter.

In true repentance, God’s people are honest and say, “Father, I have sinned. Please forgive me.” There is no qualification. There is no hesitation. There is no self-protection. The retracting statement of the Salvation Army over their Racial Guide is a, “Sorry – Not Sorry” statement. It is shameful.

While every Christian should be careful which ministry is supported with the financial resources God has entrusted to the believer, it is counter productive to the cause of Christ to knowingly give money to an organization that undermines the gospel.

Has the Salvation Army moved from preaching the gospel to proclaiming a socialistic ideology? For now, with the current leadership, the answer is yes, and the founders of the movement would be ashamed. 

William Booth and Catherine Mumford

On the web, this historical narrative can be found: “How William and Catherine Booth Started the Salvation Army.”

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.

Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings.

In 1865, William Booth was invited to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. He set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard, and his services became an instant success. His renown as a religious leader spread throughout London, and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.

To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.

Many churches, however, did not accept Booth’s followers because of their past. So Booth continued giving his new converts spiritual direction, challenging them to save others like themselves. Soon, they too were preaching and singing in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” Booth assumed the title of general superintendent, with his followers calling him “General.” Known as the “Hallelujah Army,” the converts spread out of the East End of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.

While reading a printer’s proof of the 1878 annual report, Booth noticed the statement “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Crossing out the words “volunteer army,” he penned in “Salvation Army.” From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.

From that point, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles, in some cases facing real battles as organized gangs mocked and attacked them. In spite of violence and persecution, some 250,000 people were converted under the ministry of The Salvation Army between 1881 and 1885.

William Booth and Catherine had a burning desire to win the lost multitudes to Christ. They recognized the need for social justice and took practical steps to right the wrongs of their day. However, the Booths also understood that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of the world, and the gospel is the answer to the problems associated with race, poverty, and social injustice.

The leadership of the Salvation Army must truly repent, and then return to the foundational principles of the Christian faith, message, and practice, without qualifications.

Leave a Reply