Prior to the 1948 inauguration of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Karl Barth challenged the churches to engage in ‘real strict sober genuine theology’ in order that the unity of the church might be visibly realised. At that time, The Salvation Army did not aspire to become formally known as a church, even though it became a founding member of the WCC. Today it is globally known as a social welfare organisation, concerned especially to serve the needs of those who find themselves at the margins of society. Less well known is that seventy years after Barth’s challenge, The Salvation Army has made its peace with the view that it is a church denomination. Accepting Barth’s challenge to the churches, and in dialogue with his own ecumenical ecclesiology, the concept of the church as an army is interrogated in service to The Salvation Army’s developing understanding of its identity and to the visible unity of God’s church.
Foreword by John H.Y. Briggs
Part One: Emerging Salvationist Ecclesiology
1. The Origins of a “Christian Mission”
2. The Establishing of The Salvation Army
3. The Salvation Army as a Church
Part Two: Salvationist Dialogue with Karl Barth
4. Electing the Christian Community
5. Reconciling the Christian Community
6. The Nature of the Christian Community
7. The Form of the Christian Community
8. The Marks of the Christian Community
9. The Mission and Ministry of the Christian Community
Endorsements and Reviews
This is a groundbreaking study in both method and content. It explores with real honesty and clarity the identity and ontology of the church as the body of Christ, including a commendation of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ways of Christ’s ‘self-attestation’. Required reading for theologians and ecumenists.
Dr Timothy Bradshaw, Research Lecturer in Theology, University of Oxford
Like A Mighty Army? is a fine example of the interplay of historical research, theological interrogation, and the analysis of emerging ecclesiastical practice, well illustrating the impact of the mental exercise of historical and theological enquiry upon the practical issues presently confronting The Salvation Army in exploring the nature of its identity and mission in the modern world.
John H.Y. Briggs, Senior Research Fellow in Church History and Director of the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford
This splendid study should be shouted from the rooftops! … this book deserves to be read by all Methodists, especially those who are deeply concerned about how we understand the nature of Church, as opposed to a ‘movement’ within the Church … This is a courageous undertaking, reinforcing our view that it should be widely read and reflected upon.
Rev Harvey Richardson, in Methodist Recorder
In its way this is an iconoclastic book that might help a much-loved movement reinvent itself. Humbly sharing the journey with other churches may be the best place to start. Ours, after all, is a world where militarist metaphors have become highly contested but where work among the outcast and poor remains painfully pressing.
Mark D. Chapman, in Theology, Vol 119 (2)