Wednesday, 15 October 2014

William Booth on Spiritual Warfare

I will finish this series by looking at how the Army would deal with opposition and turn enemies into friends.  In an age where the church does not look much like an army, where it is largely despised and struggles to be a triumphant, respected, feared body of brave, loving, believing servants, I find this passage deeply challenging and encouraging too.  If they could do this over 100 years ago, why can't we now?

Consider, moreover, through what opposition the Salvation Army has ever had to make its way.

In each country it has to face universal prejudice, distrust, and contempt, and often stronger antipathy still. This opposition has generally found expression in systematic, Governmental, and Police restriction, followed in too many cases by imprisonment, and by the condemnatory outpourings of Bishops, Clergy, Pressmen and others, naturally followed in too many instances by the oaths and curses, the blows and insults of the populace. Through all this, in country after country, the Army makes its way to the position of universal respect, that respect, at any rate, which is shown to those who have conquered.

And of what material has this conquering host been made?

Wherever the Army goes it gathers into its meetings, in the first instance, a crowd of the most debased, brutal, blasphemous elements that can be found who, if permitted, interrupt the services, and if they see the slightest sign of police tolerance for their misconduct, frequently fall upon the Army officers or their property with violence. Yet a couple of Officers face such an audience with the absolute certainty of recruiting out of it an Army Corps.

Many thousands of those who are now most prominent in the ranks of the Army never knew what it was to pray before they attended its services; and large numbers of them had settled into a profound conviction that everything connected with religion was utterly false. It is out of such material that God has constructed what is admitted to be one of the most fervid bodies of believers ever seen on the face of the earth.

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