Salvation Army

Psychoheresy & Ecumenism Conquers the Army*

-  The "Mission Statement" of the Salvation Army (SA) reads as follows:

"The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its Message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination."

Note that its message is to be based on the Bible, its ministry is to be motivated by love, and its mission is "to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs." According to the SA journal titled The Salvation Army War Cry, "The Salvation Army provides services to 33 million people each year. Approximately 3 million of these people suffer from stress, relationship problems or mental illness" (Vol. 120, No. 9, p. 5). Another issue of the War Cry is titled "A Christian Perspective on Mental Health." There is no question that the Salvation Army (SA) provides an extensive rehabilitation program for those who suffer from "mental illness," substance abuse, and other problems of living. They have spent huge amounts of money to carry on their rehab programs. Though SA is known as a Christian organization, it does NOT provide a truly Biblical perspective and program.

A "Mission Statement" of their publication War Cry speaks of witnessing "to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives." However, laced throughout the SA rehab programs meant to change lives is the use of the very wisdom of men about which the Scripture warns. SA has adopted the alcoholism as a disease concept; it is immersed in the 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) originated programs; and the language is that of addiction and recovery, including "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic" (e.g., War Cry, Vol. 117, No 16; and Vol. 120, No. 9). The testimony in one article declares, "At one time I was a hopeless alcoholic -- now I am an alcoholic with hope" (Vol. 117, No. 16, p. 17).

-  An article giving an example of "The Army's Recovery Ministries" starts out this way (War Cry, Vol. 117, No. 16, p. 6):

"Hi, I'm Jackie, I'm an addict"; "My name is Pat, I'm an alcoholic"; "I'm June, I'm recovering from a drug addiction"; "My name is Vicki, I'm a grateful recovering addict"; "I'm Vivian, I'm still in recovery."

The Bible used with this group of women is The Serenity Bible: A Companion for 12 Step Recovery. Since when does the Bible need to be augmented by an AA format and need to be integrated with the 12-Step vocabulary and mindset? It is only because we live in a psychological society that SA and other professing Christian groups have adopted and practiced the psychological mindset. The Bobgans have produced academic and Biblical evidence in opposition to the integration of worldly addiction-recovery programs with Christianity in their book 12 Steps to Destruction. (See also "AA: Christian or Occult Roots?" in PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 5, No. 5.) In these writings they refute a number of myths about AA and the codependency-recovery movement, including the idea that addictions are diseases, that AA is based on Christianity, that the founders of AA were truly Christians, that AA is highly effective, and that one can uncompromisingly Christianize the AA approach to addictions.

-  The Salvation Army has joined such worldly organizations as AA, NA, ACOA and others in their criticism of the church. A War Cry article presents the following question and answer (Vol. 117, No. 16, p. 5):

"Did you ever think about going to a church or somewhere for help?"; "Church? Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They would just make me feel worse." 

Where is the SA criticism of the secular groups, including AA itself? Why doesn't SA admit the obvious and criticize the very worldly organizations they copy. Why don't they reveal that there is no Biblical grace in them, because the God of the Bible is absent and Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father is entirely avoided? Individuals are regularly excluded from AA meetings simply because they profess "the gospel of Jesus Christ," which is what the SA "Mission Statement" claims to do.

Like their worldly counterparts, the Salvation Army brags about the success rates of its rehab programs. One War Cry article stated the following: "22.5% of all individuals who entered one of the 41 rehabilitation centers' programs in 1996 graduated. The success rate for those in the long-term program was much higher." However, the problem with the figures provided by the SA is that they are based on the say so of a "program development officer," unsubstantiated by third-party researchers. And, there is no reference to follow-up studies after the "graduates" have been gone for awhile. The Bobgans document many of the fallacies of the 12-Step movement in their book 12 Steps to Destruction. AA is notorious for making unsubstantiated claims that disappear when third-party researchers examine the claims. The same would no doubt happen with the SA claim since they use the same 12-Step approach.

Another area that is a compromise with the world and a contradiction of the SA principles is in the employment of personnel in the rehab programs and in the screening of individuals to enter officers' training, as well as in the training programs for officers and ministers. According to the SA web sites, the degrees and education required for the personnel in rehab programs reflect the same academic and psychological training and experience requirements as for secular rehab programs. Although the Bobgans in their research checked with only one SA Territorial Headquarters, it is suspected from reading the War Cry that psychologists and psychological tests are used throughout the SA for admission to the officer training program. Two psychological tests included in the screening for those who wish to become officers are the MMPI and the 16PF. The DISC is also presented at the SA college. Moreover, the manner in which these tests are used by SA is definitely contrary to the Standards volume available from the American Psychological Association. The Bobgans have discussed these tests and their misuse in their book Missions & PsychoHeresy. It is doubtful that any independent third-party, well-known psychometrist would endorse the use of such tests in the manner in which they are used by SA. (The SA will say that the results of the psychological interviews and psychological tests do not themselves screen out any applicant, but the tests are required, i.e. no one is exempt from them.)

-  While many procedures established by the Salvation Army in nineteenth-century London are still in place, its first U.S.-born general is moving the international organization toward greater flexibility in youth outreach. The 1.4 million-member Salvation Army is in no hurry to dispense with its distinctive hierarchy, uniforms, and territorial divisions, but the denomination's leaders are re-examining their methods in order to be “responsive” to concerns from youth leaders. At a 1/97 youth forum in Cape Town, South Africa, leaders, including Gen. Paul A. Rader, received feedback from young Salvationists, as church members are called, who desire their organization to diversify. Rader chose church growth as a leading priority when he assumed the top command, placing a high value on keeping the Salvation Army culturally relevant in the more than 90 countries in which it operates. But the Salvationists asked for more flexibility in the wearing of uniforms and more recognition in the command hierarchy of decision making from local churches, or "corps," as they are known. Some participants called for the introduction of water baptism and the celebration of Communion during worship services. (Source: 3/3/97, Christianity Today.)

-  A man who had attended a Salvation Army church for two years was dismayed when he received a flier in his mailbox depicting a Roman Catholic Cardinal (Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston) conducting services at one of the main retreat centers of The Salvation Army. He went to the leaders, giving them the chance to repent. Instead, they took up the cause of Roman Catholicism and defended them as "Christian brothers." In a letter, the area SA "Colonel" responded: "… we do believe that allowing Cardinal Law to speak recently at a Salvation Army function in no way compromises our theology or evangelical position. While there clearly are doctrinal differences between The Salvation Army and the Catholic Church, we share a oneness in our ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ. We seek to proclaim Christ as Lord in this ecumenical effort." In another letter from Salvation Army World Headquarters, SA confirms its global intent and unholy alliance with the Roman Catholic Church: "You will see from the attached however that our position is that of support for the Roman Catholic Church as with other Christian groups. That includes respect for their doctrines and practices and, as opportunity allows, sharing in corporate worship and public events of an ecumenical nature." (Source: "The Salvation Army in Bed with Rome," 2001.)

The Salvation Army in the western part of the United States has decided to give benefits to the "partners" of homosexual employees. In 1998, the city of San Francisco forbade the SA to receive public money unless it would grant benefits to same-sex couples. At the time, the Salvation Army refused to go along with these ungodly terms and gave up $3.5 million in public assistance, rightfully observing that the law conflicts with the organization's Christian beliefs. An SA official in San Francisco was quoted as saying that "homosexuality presents a serious threat to the integrity, quality and solidarity of society as a whole." Subsequently, the SA did an about face on the issue and have put money before moral conviction. The local Salvation Army chapter promised it would not discriminate against homosexuals, and also agreed to launch pro-gay sensitivity training for its staff, work to hire more homosexuals, and review its policy on homosexuality. (The Salvation Army is also a member of the neo-evangelical NAE.) (Source: 7/15/97, Calvary Contender; 11/9/01, FBIS.)

* Unless otherwise cited, this report has been adapted and/or excerpted from an article titled, "Salvation Army & PsychoHeresy," by Martin & Deidre Bobgan, March-April 2002, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 2/2003