"We believe in the old-fashioned salvation. We have not developed and improved into Universalism, Unitarianism, or Nothingarianism, or any other form of infidelity, and we don't expect to. Ours is just the same salvation taught in the Bible, proclaimed by Prophets and Apostles, preached by Luther and Wesley, and Whitfield .... ~
Booth went on to say, "We believe the world needs it, this and this alone will set it right. We want no other nostrum -- nothing new.''
Booth could lump Luther, Wesley, and Whitfield together and do it comfortably because neither he nor his earlier mission nor his later Army was concerned with fine points of doctrine. The early Army was concerned with basic truths. Booth, writing in an 1868 issue of his mission magazine, The East London Evangelist, made clear that the concern of his magazine would not be with different opinions and minor points of doctrine and discipline. He would avoid these concerns "... so that Christ and Him crucified be held as the only ground of a sinner's hope here and hereafter."
The Army found a tension between itself and the prevailing thought of the day, not only in the recognition of sin and the understanding of salvation, but in the understanding of sin as well. As mentioned, self-interest was lauded in nineteenth-century England. The Army believed sin was universal, that each and every person was a sinner, totally depraved, and that the essence of that sin was self-interest. In The Christian Mission Magazine of 1877, Mrs. Booth clarified the nature of universal sin.
Soul-winning was William Booth's call to the ministry. It remained his passion during his own formative years of turmoil and frustration. Once entering the East End of London, he would forever more pursue soul-saving results. They were the consuming passion of his Christian Mission: "To live, to move, to grow; to be a power amongst men, a light in the world, the flaming sword of God--that is our calling.''
We want the burning love to dying men which feels with a terrible heart-pang every sinner's misery, and forgets danger and difficulty and discouragement in the deathless agony to pluck brands from the burning. We want to be bigger, grander, holier, more god-like men and women, and we must be if we are to do what God expects of us."
This Salvation War on behalf of humanity is not waged in any piecemeal fashion, Our aim is not to help poor, suffering, sinning man a little in this corner and then in another, but to lift him entirely out of the gulf in which he is plunged, and to emancipate and bless him, in every phase of his being, for time and eternity.
Everything must be brought into the service of this soul-winning. "Read, give, pray, talk, sing--do anything you can. Everything that seems likely to make people know the truth about themselves and Heaven, and Hell."
The editor of The Officer, 1893, wrote:
We have no hobbies... unless it be a hobby to want to save the largest number of souls with
the highest possible salvation in the quickest space of time by the best imaginable methods.
That is... the sum and substance of our mission.
The visitor who desires to take the "light of the world" to the dark homes of the poor, should remember that it is absolutely necessary that every unregenerate sinner should feel his condition before God to be a state of sin; otherwise it is impossible to believe in the necessity of a Saviour.
Booth said, "... I have always regarded all theoretical opinions, and church ceremonials, and passing feelings as being subordinate, nay, as being nowhere, in comparison with a personal realisation of Divine things.''
This idea of salvation requiring divine assurance and practical life-expression permeated with love and centered within the life of the individual: became a very compelling force. Here was a spirit which sought to compel people to consider the sin of the world as well as the sin of their own lives. This was one of the lessons Booth believed the Army had given to the world. It asserted that God's people ... whatever they are called, must be the Rebukers of the world--the Intruders upon its selfishness and pleasure life-the Demanders from it of its dues and duty to God, its Maker and Judge. No greater mistake could be made than to suppose that our sole business with the world is to serve it or reveal to it the sympathies and benevolences of God. We are to condemn its sin and command its repentance and foretell its doom.
In this salvation war, offensive in character and global in dimension, there was a real cost of discipleship. A Major Wells from California reported:
My heart is cheered. We are making the devil mad. Victory will come! Look out for some martyrdom here in the near future--it is to come, sure. Well, we are saved to die, and don't care much where our bones are buried.
From India this report was given of the war.
Sleeping on the ground under trees I don't mind, and you are so hungry by the time you get your food, that your hands go into the rice and curry of sticky dough without being asked twice. Thank God it isn't a sin to eat with unwashed hands.
You can't take changes of clothing with you, as you sometimes have to swim across stretches of water, and are constantly wading. The filthy, stinky water you have to go through is the great danger, excepting the water you drink.
For some, the cost of discipleship was too much.
Owing to our adherence to this rigid military system, we are losing almost every year officers, as well as people, who, having lost their first love, begin to hanker after the "rights," "privileges," "comforts," "teaching," or "respectability of the churches." No one remains with us, or is likely to remain, whose sole object in life is not the attainment of the one purpose ever kept before the Army--the rescue from sin and hell of those who are farthest from God and righteousness.
In this salvation war the primary word was always "attack." Booth, answering criticism of the Army's work in Switzerland said: It is the same story everywhere; we are in the front of a life and death struggle against unbelief, drunkenness, and other vices which National Assemblies fear to grapple with, but which must be overcome if the nations are not to be handed over to ruinous debauchery and ruffianism.
Christians must be doing something. Railton, writing Booth's biography, asserted: "The inexorable law to which he insisted that everything should bend was that nothing can excuse inactivity and want of enterprise where souls are perishing.''
He proved that it was possible to raise up "Christian Soldiers," who would not only sing, or hear singing,
in beautiful melody about "marching, onward to War"; but who would really do it,
even when it led to real battle. (Here is a video showing the Salvation Army, a phenomenon in any day
and time, ...and it marched before General Booth like you would expect armed soldiers with guns to
march before its Commanders; ...only these soldiers were armed with the commitment to go into all
the world and win souls for the Lord.)
"Offensive warfare is warfare that presses the issue. It is a first-strike effort. Commenting on Acts 26:16 and God's command to his disciples to go into all the world, Mrs. Booth said:
"We are not to build temples or churches, and wait for the people to come, but "go ye"--run after them, seek them out-and "preach My gospel to every creature."
"We must contend with hatred and opposition BY LOVE, show sinners how God loves by our love, by
our willingness to sacrifice and suffer for them; make them see it in our tears, in our prayers,
in our trudging about after them ...(As General Booth reached the end of his days, he made
a famous speech worth remembering, that moved many. It is the "I'll fight," message. Listen:)
In the end of his days when he was too old to go into the highways and byways physically,
and the automobile was new in 1904; he toured over 1200 miles
and huge crowds gathered at the innovation to see the now world famous Evangelist. Twelve
hundred miles was a long way to go with those piles of nuts and bolts in those days. If you
watch the video, you'll see they are not having an easy time of changing a flat tire.
We are told in Holy Scripture, "out of the heart come the issues of Life." Booth's concern for the poor and destitute and for
their lost souls; drove him to his many successes. "God works in us to will and to do," will power is not something you can
manufacture, but you certainly ought to do your part to grow up into Christ as much as it is possible for you;...studying to
show yourself approved of God, .....all the while making yourself available to the LORD God if He should happen to choose
you for His greater work.