Over the last few months I’ve been involved with a Facebook group called the ‘Progressive Salvationist.’ The aim of the group is simple: “This group is for Salvationists with a liberal/progressive worldview to talk freely about their beliefs without fear of condemnation. We’re not heretics, just heterodox!”
I was having a conversation on the group a while back, and somebody suggested we come up with a manifesto. I was looking for a writing project, so to cut a long story short, here we are.
This post isn’t intended as that manifesto. Rather, I just want to kick a few ideas around in case I ever get to writing the thing. Feel free to weigh in!
At this stage I’m assuming we know what is meant by ‘progressive.’ There are plenty of descriptions around the internet.
Towards a Manifesto for Progressive Salvationism
We march behind one flag
In another context I’d prefer to say, ‘There’s plenty of room at the table.’ It’s an historical peculiarity that this metaphor doesn’t work so well for the Salvation Army, but we have some good metaphors of our own.
Generally speaking, we see Progressivism as not only compatible with the fundamental core of Salvationism, but consonant. Progressive Salvationists identify as Salvationists and gladly serve in the same Army as non-Progressive Salvationists. We’re happy to work and worship alongside brother- and sister-Salvationists who might disagree with us on many points.
Progressive Salvationists affirm the Eleven Articles of Faith. It is recognised that there are a range of interpretations of these articles.
There’s room behind the flag
We’re committed to welcoming as many people as possible into the Army’s fellowship. Welcoming the ‘whosoever’ has been an historical strength of the Salvation Army and we wish this to continue as a defining aspect of Salvationism.
Progressive Salvationists particularly see that the mission of the Salvation Army to the poor is a necessary response to the claims of the Gospel. It is incumbent on the Progressive Salvationist not only to help meet the material and spiritual needs of poor people, but to advocate for poor people as a matter of justice.
Progressive Salvationists do not believe people should be excluded from soldiership or officership on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Moreover, we affirm the right of same-sex attracted people to live fulfilled sexual lives according to the same standards as opposite-sex attracted people. We do not believe the gender of either party in a relationship should prevent them from being married.
There’s only one flag for me
Progressive Salvationists see that their loyalty is to the Commonwealth of God rather than a particular state or nation. Whilst they may enjoy a particular affection for their country, and they may legitimately and conscionably take part in some celebrations, observances and obligations of their country, they recognise that their allegiance is to God alone.
Other things I’d like to put in here…
I haven’t really dealt with theological things yet. I’d like to put in something about evangelism and reaching the lost, perhaps with an explanation of what we mean by ‘lost.’
Do I offer a run-down of some of the interpretations of the Eleven Articles? For example, it would be good to mention that Progressives don’t necessarily like the idea of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and that there are other ways of reading the Fifth Article.
I’d like to add something about environmental matters. This could also address eschatology, a Progressive view of science and creation…
A sI said above, this isn’t even at the rough draft stage. Comments, please!