On Covenant and Officership…

I reckon that most people who know me well would know that I am very unlikely to resign as a Salvation Army officer. There are tonnes of reasons for this. This posting also offers some added info to the last post because I’m picking up that people are perhaps getting unclear messages from my cryptic ramblings!


1) I’m covenanted to stay to the bitter end. Like I posted several months ago, words from George Scott Railton: “I intend carefully to instruct my children that if at any time they see The Salvation Army a wealthy, respectable concern, the majority of whose “soldiers” simply go where they please to attend its’ “ministrations,” leaving the godless undisturbed to perish; and if they see another set of people, however they may be clothed or despised, who really give up all to go and save the lost, then they must not for a moment hesitate to leave the concern their poor old dad helped to make, and go out amongst those who most faithfully carry out what the founder of the Army laid down in his writings and acts, may God preserve them from such a day by keeping the Army free from the love of money and ease” – George Scott Railton, An Autobiography, Full Salvation, Jan. 1, 1894. Whilst I might discourage my children from battling with a dinosaur in favour of joining the people God has raised up to take our crown, I myself am committed to being ‘poor old dad’ trying to be faithful.

I’ve always had the ‘you can’t change it from the outside’ mentality. That’s not to say that I’ll just dig my head in the sand and pretend things aren’t like they are. Its much more about poking your head above the trench. This is much more about what is going on for us just now.

This thing for us just now is about the Salvation War, its about advance, its about Kingdom growth, its about how we best serve the lost in our communities, its about how we best meet the needs of soldiers, its about strategic deployment. Its about wanting all those things to be happening effectively. Don’t get me wrong, whilst I may be frustrated with The Salvation Army, its fueling my Bill-Hybels-like ‘holy discontent’ to get engaged further in ‘Army renewal.’

Where thoughts about ‘life outside officership’ are coming from are probably from misplaced fears that the Army won’t want us. It is in this circumstance that we have to have ‘de-mob’ thoughts although we 100% want to be avoiding that sort of circumstance altogether. Got it?

2) If I resigned I’d have no clothes to wear.

3) In spite of the general spiritual and missional state of the Salvation Army in my territory, I believe that even if God has taken his hand off the Army ALL IT TAKES IS THAT WE RE-DIG THE WELLS OF OUR FOREFATHERS TO BEGIN WALKING IN OUR BIRTHRIGHT. This is why Primitive Salvationism for me isn’t an aesthetic thing.

We have wells of soul-saving, saint-growing, humanity rescuing, prayer warrior-ing, spiritual warfare fighting, world changing, society transforming and world winning to undig. Re-digging these clogged wells takes work, sweat and, to be honest, tears.

4)As Captain Stephen Court points out at armybarmy.com, and as I am fully aware, the difference between Booth and the New Connexion and me and the Army could well be covenant. I too can find no example of any sort of agreement that Booth would have entered into in his ordination into the New Connexion. That, however, doesn’t meant to say there wasn’t one and that Booth didn’t break it. I’ve no evidence to support or deny whether Booth was in covenant with the NMC…perhaps if you can find some, we can share it.

However, that aside, covenant is why we’ve not jumped ship and the reason why thoughts about life outside the Army simply become a joke between Captain Tracy and I!!! I won’t be making the choice Booth made unless I’m left with no choice as I outlined before.

The only siginificant parallel that can be made in that instance is one of calling.

5)To resign would discredit the input I’ve put into the lives of officers, local officers, and soldier’s I’ve served with. Covenant is about trust, not only with God, but with each other. I’d never want to make my breaking of covenant anything of an excuse for others to do the same. Its an integrity issue. I’ve taught covenant heavily. If I broke it willingly I’d discredit all that I’ve ever stood for and render myself ‘without a song.’

I don’t want anyone to ever doubt that I can be trusted in the war.

So, there are five reasons I am very unlikely to resign.

However, I’d like to throw out a gambit (if thats what you do with a gambit) and ask a question that I’d like to hear responses to.

The question is in regard to the people of Israel and the example that they are for the church. You know that many a time they, as a people, broken covenant with their God. There was always a faithful remnant to the true purposes of God. Many a time, faithful Jews were carried off into exile with their unfaithful Jews and stayed in covenant to God whilst out of the land and out of the temple. The mind jumps to blokes like Daniel. They were a spiritual Israel in a time when there couldn’t be a physical Israel.

My question is this: If it could be possible that Yahweh has lifted his hand or his hand or his glory in some way from The Salvation Army (in my context), is it possible for some to remain faithful to him outwith the land and the temple (i.e the Army as it is recognised)?

I’d dearly love the answer for this to be no, but my thinking is pretty much coloured by the Old Testament references to people faithful to God in spiritual terms when they were somehow prevented physically.

This is a sincere question, I things its one that we primitives especially have to discuss. I’d be interested to hear your responses…answers on a postcard (or, much easier, just his the ‘comment’ button!)

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