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Title: The Salvation Army, the Church and the Churches
Author: Taylor, David
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This study examines the Salvation Army's emerging ecclesiological conviction and practice in an ecumenical context, and principally assesses the theological credibility of its dominant metaphor, the church as an army. The metaphor emerged in London, at the heart of the British Empire, amidst the popular jingoism of nineteenth century Victorian culture. It was directly inspired by a trans-Atlantic movement of holiness revivalism - a synthesis of Wesleyan perfectionism and American New Divinity revivalism - and was the logical outcome of the movement's emphasis upon aggressive Christianity. It was primarily chosen, not to theologically express the nature of the church, but to pragmatically organise the aggressive task of efficiently and effectively 'saving souls'. This decision stemmed from a subjective and individualistic understanding of salvation, illustrated by the abandonment of baptism and the Lord's Supper. The development of a secular model of military ranks and hierarchical governance, without theological rationale, established the movement as a disciplined and highly regulated army of 'crack troops', an autonomous denomination and yet a quasi-missionary religious order with in the church. Under pressure from a growing ecumenical consensus, it has re-articulated its identity from 'permanent mission to the unconverted' to a church, in effect the church as an army, a transition limited in ecumenical ecciesiological engagement and adequate theological reflection. In view of this, Karl Barth is chosen as a dialogue partner, for his ecumenical theology and coherent ecclesiology, which stem from a theological anthropology that rejects both individualism and subjectivism. In particular his Christological ecclesiology assists the Army in untangling confusing ecclesial strands of mission, army and church. As a result he enables the Army to reflect upon and potentially reform troubling aspects of its identity; in particular hierarchy, bureaucracy, uniformity, legalism and the replacement of the sacraments by its own sacralised practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available