The last week I have been contemplating this question: What does it mean to be a Salvationist? A Salvationist (for those of you who are not in the Salvation Army), is a soldier in the Salvation Army, but what does that mean?
Is being a Salvationist believing certain things or doing certain things?
Let me explain. I have been in love with the Salvation Army since I walked into the SA New Years Youth conference in Malmö, January 2000. I felt lured by god to not only attend but to leave my pastors position at what is now United – Öresundskyrkan and become a Salvationist. At the New Years Youth Conference 2001 I was enrolled together with Hanna to be Soldiers of the Salvation Army by Commissioner Rolf Roos at a deeply moving ceremony in Norrköping.
Since then we have explored what it means being a Salvationist and also what it means being a Christian. We have been challenged, we have grown and our faith has gone through a transformation. During this whole time we have been on an incredible journey. Prompted by our ministry, our experience with people and the army and perhaps most of all by our Officers training at William Booth College in London we have questioned Christianity, our salvation and of course our salvationism. Personally I think it is healthy to critically examine your beliefs and assumptions on a regular basis although not all agree.
At times our salvationism has been questioned. In the beginning we where raving radical charismatic fundamentalist biblicists and that was questioned by the often more liberal Salvation Army. After college we came out post-liberal, emergent, post-modern radical theologians which has been questioned by the often more modern and traditional Salvation Army. However, our love for the army has stayed the same even as our beliefs have changed.
As a Salvation Army Soldier, a Salvationist, you have covenanted yourself to spread the good news of gods radical and unconditional love to everyone but primarily to those that have been marginalised by society. We would call this missio dei, the mission of god: to bring about the kingdom of god or the dream that god dreams for the now and future of this world.
So back to the the question is a salvationist someone who believes certain things or someone who does certain things. Is the covenant a covenant to believe or a covenant to act?
For my part although my beliefs have undergone a major transformation my covenant stays the same: To proclaim that god so loved the world, every single soul, rock, tree, bird and bee. This is good news, acceptance of this love will transform peoples lives, set them free, give them freedom, joy and peace beyond our understanding.
This covenant is unaffected by what I believe or do not believe about the scriptures, about the trinity, about the virgin birth, about marriage, about homosexuality or about other religions.
For me the covenanted life of a salvationist is a covenant to partake in the missio dei. The proclamation of the good news to all of creation. What are your thoughts?