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War on two fronts - Roger Green

War on two fronts - Roger Green

7 June 2017

Reviewed by Major David Woodbury

War On Two Fronts, William Booth’s theology of redemption, is developed from Roger Green’s dissertation for the requirements for his PhD from Boston College.

Previously published by the USA Southern Territory it has been reissued this year by Crest Books.

It is not intended as bedtime reading but rather, as Green says, for the “serious reader ... in the hope that it will cause reflection upon our common theological heritage”.

The book achieves what it sets out to do; trace the development in the theology of William Booth, and consequently The Salvation Army.

Green subdivides Booth’s ministry and theological development into three stages: 

· 1878 – His revivalist ministry with its emphasis on personal conversion. During this time Booth’s primary concern was “the saving of souls” and his “motivation was to preach to those whom neither church nor chapel was touching”. As his ministry progressed he developed various doctrinal positions along Protestant lines with an insistence on “relating church to mission”.

· 1889-1890 – The transition from The Christian Mission to The Salvation Army. With the transition, a widening of theological development was necessary to embrace the emerging nature of The Salvation Army with its militaristic personality. With this came an assertion by Booth that the Army was of divine origin and it “was of God”. Booth came to believe in “corporate sanctification”; that “The Salvation Army was of divine and not merely human origin”. Although his theology was developing, “Any understanding of the church for Booth in every stage of his theology included the concept of mission”.

· 1889-1890 – The understanding that salvation was both personal and social. While it can be seen that Booth’s earlier theology reflected his purely revivalist stance, it now moved to embrace social salvation. The Salvation Army now had a dual mission: war on two fronts. While Booth had always had a great concern and empathy for the poor, his focus had been on getting sinners saved. Following the Army’s first foray into social salvation through the Prison Gate Brigade in Melbourne, Booth now formed what was known as the Social Reform Wing. Booth’s theology had now developed to embrace “a gospel of redemption from personal sin and a gospel of redemption from social evil”.

Roger Green’s reissue of this book is timely in helping the 21st century Salvation Army to fully comprehend its theological roots and all who are involved in Army ministry will benefit from reading it. War On Two Fronts is available from Christianbook.com for $US12.

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