The persistence of the Salvation Army : a challenge to the "sociology of sectarianism"
The perspective of this thesis is different from that of
recent studies within the sociology of religion in that it
questions the value of continuing the sect-church typology
and favours a phenomenological approach. It intends to move
towards the vision of one reviewer of Wilson: Patterns of
Sectarianism (1967) who looked forward to "further and rather
different analysis of much of this material". In looking at
the same or similar material in a different light it aims to
contribute to the theoretical base of the sociology of religion.
It sets out to look at the persistence of the Salvation
Army as an institution, as a form of human organization
designed to pursue religious aims, rather than as a "sect" or
an example of any other academically imposed category. As
such this study has nothing to add to the "sociology of
This thesis utilizes the theory of Peter L. Berger and
Thomas Luckmann that there is a dialectic process involving
the human construction and internalization of social reality,
involving tensions and dualities which make the acceptance of
that reality, and therefore human existence, possible. Here
the processes involved in the genesis and development of the
Salvation Army, together with the concomitant dualities and
tensions, are exposed by empirical analysis and their
importance assessed. An explanation of the persistence of the
movement is presented built upon this theoretical perspective.
This study represents an important empirical testing and
application of Berger and Luckmann's theory.
"Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is
not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.
To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift
an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
"These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they
are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound
them; they should not be confounded: appearance should not be
mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to
elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the
world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is - I repeat it - a
difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark
broadly and c12arly the line of separation between them.
"The world may not like to SRe these ideas dissevered,
for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient
to make external show oass for sterling worth - to let whitewashed
walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who
dares to scrutinize and expose - to rase the gilding, and show
the base metal underneath - to penetrate the sepulchre, and
reveal charnel relics: but, hate as it will, it is indebted
(Charlotte Bronte: dane Eyre, Preface)