Friday, November 16, 2012

Should a Christian give money to the Salvation Army?


This question was submitted by email. 

Should a Christian give money to the Salvation Army? 

Are they really “doing the most good”?

Go to any shopping mall during the Christmas season, and without a doubt you will hear the ringing of a bell and see a friendly individual standing by a red pail. This person will be volunteer bell ringer for the Salvation Army. It is hard to past by a kind person collecting funds and not feel compelled to donate. 

All the blessings that we have are from God. Our money is given to us by God and He expects us to be be good stewards of it. This would include using it to His glory by supporting good works, feeding the hungry, helping the needy and caring for orphans and widows (Matthew 25:41-46, James 1:27).

In order to be good stewards of our wealth, we sometimes have to do a little research to make sure that the works we are supporting are truly “good”.

What is the Salvation Army?
  • The Salvation Army does more than just feed the hungry and meet the physical needs of the poor, it also attempts to meet peoples spiritual needs with Bible teaching. It is more than just a charity, it is a church. This requires a person to do a little more research before giving money. Not only do we need to make sure that our money actually goes to help the poor, we also have to make sure this church is teaching the Truth.
  • If one desires, they can read the entire Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine here.
  • This post will not attempt to examine all of the doctrines of the Salvation Army. In fact, there are many points in their Handbook that agree wholeheartedly with Scripture. At the same time, however, there are many that don't.
  • This post will highlight a few areas in which the one will see a contradiction between Bible teaching and the Salvation Army.

  • The Salvation Army is adamant that Baptism is not essential. 
  • This belief of theirs, could not be further from the Truth. 
  • In numerous places in Scripture baptism is commanded. (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21 and more). Click here for more information on the necessity of Baptism.

On the Lord’s Supper  (See Salvation Army Handbook 271)
  • Just like their views on Baptism, the Salvation Army strongly opposes the belief that one is to participate in the Lord’s Supper/Communion. 
  • The Bible, however, teaches that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in (Matthew 26:26-30). 
  • Paul recounted the necessity of taking it in (1 Corinthians 11:23-34). 
  • In fact, we read of Christians taking it “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). 
  • Although there are those who make the Lord’s Supper into something more than what it is, (like the Catholic Eucharist), this does not lessen its importance in the church today.

  • When describing its own worship practices, they state: 
    • “Salvationists (church members) regard their whole life and being as an act of worship, but, of course, they meet regularly for worship...Music may be provided by the local Salvation Army band or by the choir (who are called the 'Songsters')...Music has been important to the Army from its early days, when it was a powerful evangelical tool; not just to attract a crowd to hear the preacher, but as a way of helping people to experience faith in a more embracing way than words could on their own.” (www.salvationarmy.usaeast.org).
  • The New Testament gives no examples of 1st Century Christians worshipping God this way. Instead (Ephesians 5:19) states "speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord".
It’s Organization (See Christian Courier Article Here)
  • Concerning its organization, Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier writes:
    • “The organizational structure of the Salvation Army bears not the slightest resemblance to that of the church revealed in the New Testament. Rather, it is more akin to the hierarchical system of Roman Catholicism. The international headquarters is in London and is under the authority of the international “General.” The General operates through a “Chief of Staff” into various overseas departments where limited administrative decisions are made”. 
      • “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. . .” (What is the Salvation Army?, p. 10).
One could examine many more of the practices and beliefs of the Salvation Army, but these should suffice in showing that although the Salvation Army is made up of good-hearted individuals who care about the poor, they do not teach the complete truth. In fact, in many cases they are probably giving people who are searching for Truth a false hope.

Answer:
  • I could not in good conscience give money to the Salvation Army to distribute to the poor. Although they are genuinely concerned about people, as a Christian, I would not want my money to go to a church that blatantly taught people ideas that the Bible did not support. 
  • If the Salvation Army was just a secular charity concerned for the poor, there would be nothing wrong with an individual Christian giving money toward them. They are not just a “charity”, but a church. 
  • Since they are a church not promoting New Testament Christianity, they should not be supported. Instead, their members should be taught the truth.
  • Christians should be generous people  We should support and meet the needs of the needy, but the Salvation Army would not be a good way to go about doing it.

Note: This question is NOT the same as a Christian buying goods from a business that was associated with something ungodly. (1 Corinthians 8) says that is a judgment call one has to make. Instead, one should view placing money in the Salvation Army pails, as being equal to putting money in the collection plate of a church that taught false doctrine.

For More Info please see- “An Analysis of the “Salvation Army” (Wayne Jackson) - Christian Courier.

By Cliff Sabroe