Started recruits classes with one of our teens this morning. Have a few more planned. We were looking at covenant. Its a solemn subject in a way. To grasp the privelege of covenant is to tap into a great source of empowerment and blessing not to mention a great tool for effective Christian living.
Stephen Court writes a very challenging chapter on Covenant in “New Love” by Commissioner Shaw Clifton. It is, of course, controversial (well, not to my mind, but I can see some liberals getting their trombone in a twist). But with everything Stephen writes, I find bells ringing all over the place in my head. I am not sure Commissioner Clifton would appreciate me putting a chapter of his book on my blog, so I won’t. Why don’t u buy a copy? SP&S Ltd sell them. (I won’t tell you that it costs £14.99!) To be honest, there are some parts of the book that I wonder why he bothered to include, but, I’d buy it even for Stephens chapter and thats not just because I’m an avid reader of him.
I guess my desire that covenant should be taken seriously is linked my thoughts in the ‘Salvation Army Heresy’ blogs. How easy we make it for people to fall away because their neither understand the consequences of rejecting Christ or of rejecting covenant.
I just want to quote one particular bit as I move onto a discussion about covenant:
“How many in The Salvation Army would identify covenant as the most important distinctive? General Booth argues that covenant is essential, ‘not only for those who do wrong, but to prevent people from going wrong’. We’ve watered down our end of the covenant so much that soldiership, for some, has come tomean just signing a piece of paper (and perhaps going to a Saturday seminar so that you can join the band!).
However, the ‘Articles of War’ and the ‘Soldier’s Covenant’ are intended to provide a means to holiness. The Junior Soldier’s Promise (covenant) and the Officer’s Covenant have the same purpose. This puts reins on good intentions to accomplish great ends…..
Some people think that soldiership is irreparably damaged and so they propose the institution of a holy order to fill the operational gap left by desertion of covenant. They recognise that the Army needs dependable, trained, committed warriors who have already covenanted to God. [I think Stephen is referring to Phil Wall and Geoff Ryan’s vision of an order with the SA called Credo which was presented at Roots around 2000 but never got off the initial stages.]
Others suggest that we create a lower level of membership so that the crowd on Sundays, not called or not willing to covenant with God, can still belong to the local corps congregation. However, a new lower level does nothing to address the strategic state of soldiership in some first-world locations or the loss of wonder-working, world-winning impact”
It makes sense to add that a biblical exploration of covenanted individuals yields a powerful hall of fame of wonder-working, world-winning warriors!
There really must be a reformation and the bar must be raised in challenging soldiers who do not live according to covenant throughout the whole of the first world. It is no coincidence that The Salvation Army grows at a tremenous rate in places where they take thier call and covenant seriously. Any look at a Salvation Army year book will prove that to you.
Desertion of covenant. Serious stuff. Big consequences. Missed opportunites. The lost remain lost.