Question:

After reading your article I was rather puzzled on your thinking.

I understand you are a church that focuses only on spiritual work, yet I see you are mixing, doctrine, church administration, church practice and social work all in one comment. As a fellow Christian let me share some thoughts on this, I do certainly appreciate yours.

You mention a doctrinal issue, but tell others to stop giving the Army bell ringer (a program that helps townspeople) instead of going and talking to a salvation army clergyman, which I feel is the right person to talk about doctrine. After all it is a church man talking to another church man or pastor to pastor talk.

By saying to others to stop giving the Army, you hurt people in need that relies in the Army to have social assistance. You know the Army does good, but it is only a means to bring assistance to others. What you have done is to place a bigger burden on two kinds of persons, the needy and the giver. First on someone who wished to be a good Samaritan and help someone in need, and also you promoted to keep someone in need without the assistance they badly needed. You said your church does not and will not do that work, but, at the same time, you are promoting not to help and blocking people to receive assistance somewhere else.

It puzzles me to understand how a Christian man who has no "hatred" becomes judge -- something that the Bible forbids Christians to do to others -- and tag the Army people as "not saved," based on few comments. I won't make a whole discussion on doctrinal issues, you know all Christian churches have doctrine differences. I am sure your doctrine may seem inadequate to another church near by or far away, people are never happy and Churches do not hold absolute truth, that is a fact. Yet, in total honesty, we must acknowledge, like the apostle Paul says, that we see "like in a mirror," we donīt understand fully, but must believe fully in the Lord. I invite you to keep focused and keep preaching salvation in Jesus Christ, but also to be more compassionate and less critical to others who are doing a job you don't feel doing or want to do. Remember that even the apostles told Jesus to forbid talking a man who was preaching in Jesus name but was not "with them," see? But Jesus instead rejoiced on the fact and teach a lesson for all of us to follow.

On the other hand, Jesus himself did not baptized. If he meant it to be necessary for salvation, it had to be very difficult for the man hanging near the cross who plead Jesus forgiveness to go and be baptized. Also for people who in the case of a man who had a car accident and died on his way to baptism. I do believe he was saved even he did not reach the waters. Even the apostle Paul who did it, decided to do it no more. The truth is that if people baptize, they are doing fine; if they donīt but truly accepted the Lord as Savior, they are fine. I am sure the baptism of the Holy Spirit will come upon both, if they claim to receive him. That is the baptism John claimed was bigger than his Jordan river one, and, oh, how we need it today in every Christian around the world. The Lord is the same but asked John to baptize for a purpose, and then the same Lord asked Paul not to baptize for a purpose. It is a mission driven Lord who acts accordingly for different people or situation for our sake because he is the same always.

When you mention the Holy Spirit to understand scripture, it refers, I am sure, to Christians looking to grow in the Lord, not in order to come to accept Jesus. Although, you know as the Bible says, it is work of the Holy Spirit to put conviction of sin on people to come to repentance.

The Bible says by their fruits they will be known. I have seen the Army doing good always as a church, as a social institution, and as individuals living up to God's word. I have seen them helping the down-and-out, living sacrificially, and telling others to accept Jesus as their Saviour. They go always the extra mile and they donīt use their good works as a pressure for people who use their services to become part of their church; otherwise, they would have a very big church.

But, yes, I know they are a church, despite their size, because Jesus mentions "where two or three met in my name, I am there."

You are free not to give or to give to any worthy cause. It is your right to disagree or agree in the social or church realm. Your money, your opinion, that is fine, but donīt do it in a way that hurt people who need the aid and have nothing to do with church or doctrinal points of view.

On the religious realm, remember you are not a judge but a preacher. Moreover, someone called to encompass strong thinking with mercy and compassion for those who get lost in sin. After all, God is consuming fire but has mercy for generations and generations and His love endures forever.

If the Army, as a church, goes out and preaches salvation to homeless people and gives them a hot drink, is not that commendable from the Christian and social point of view?

If the Army, as a social institution, does rehab work, is it not something that helps the community, keeping off the streets people who otherwise would be committing crimes in the very neighborhood and city you live? What about keeping out of the street children who may be in danger?

I acknowledge your spiritual zeal on keeping it "straight," social for social and spiritual for spiritual but don't let it blind you. The gospel touches the soul but must produce tangible results in the flesh and among the people. That is the call for each of us as individuals to serve selflessly and to love one another, which is ultimately the true mark of Christian discipleship according to Jesus (John 13:35). Kindest regards, Mr. Hamilton and may the Lord bless you richly in your ministry.


Answer:

You raise a number of points, many of which have been raised before. To save time, I'll direct you to prior answers when appropriate.

You acknowledge that I have a right to disagree with the teachings of organizations, such as the Salvation Army, and to document my disagreements. Yet, at the same time, you claim that I have no right to use my mind to make judgments or to express my conclusions to others if you feel those conclusions will stop people from supporting your organization. The two views are contradictory.

What Jesus taught was "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Making judgments is not forbidden. See "How can you judge others?" Besides, it is clear that you think making judgments is fine when it is you who are judging other people, such as myself.

The question asked and addressed in "Can Christians Help Support the Salvation Army?" is should Christians give money to a denomination which teaches concepts different from what the Bible teaches? You, like the long list of other Salvationists who have written, do not believe that what was documented was wrong. You only believe that it doesn't matter. Sadly, you don't bother to prove your position by what God said. You instead point repeatedly to the "good works" being done. As Paul said, "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:9-10).

You took Paul's statement in I Corinthians 13:12 out of context. He was was speaking of the current situation at the time as God's will was being revealed and miraculous gifts were being used to confirm the word (I Corinthians 13:8-12; Hebrews 2:3-4). Now that the word has been completely revealed (Jude 3), the mirror is no longer dim. "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:25).

Your statements regarding Jesus and baptism are clearly false. It was Jesus who commanded the apostles, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). He also told the disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). Clearly Jesus saw baptism as essential for salvation.

Regarding the thief on the cross, see: "What about the thief on the cross?"

Your statement claiming that Paul was commanded not to baptize is also false. Such a command is not recorded in the Bible and it would have been contrary to Jesus earlier commands which are recorded above. The statement you are alluding to in I Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect," no more implies that Paul never baptized than the phrase, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:27) means we are not to work for a living. It is an idiomatic phrasing that means the first part, after the "not," is not nearly as important as the second part, after the "but." Paul just mentioned in I Corinthians 1:14-17 that he had baptized several people in Corinth. What he is saying is that because of the divisions occurring in the church that he is glad that he hadn't personally baptized more of them lest they began to think they were baptized into Paul's name (I Corinthians 1:13). It doesn't imply that the rest of the Corinthians were not baptized. We actually know it was the opposite (I Corinthians 12:13). Most of the time Paul wasn't the one to be actually immersing people. Other people could do that. Paul saw his primary mission as teaching the gospel -- that was something that not everyone could do.

Another line of argument that you make is to falsely assume that because I find fault with the teachings of the Salvation Army that this somehow translates into my not being involved in my community or helping those who are in need. It appears that you believe that the only way help can come to the needy is through a man-made church called the Salvation Army. See: "If the church isn't a social organization, then how are the needy cared for?" and "What do you do about helping the downtrodden?"

Therefore, the fruit I see being spread by you as a support of the Salvation Army is teachings which are contrary to what the Lord Jesus Christ commanded. "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (II John 9-11). While you keep pointing to the "good works" the Salvation Army does, they do not balance out the fact that they are not following the teachings of Christ. "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).