A Practical Faith

1 Corinthians 1:28

During one year, 1882, the number of soldiers of The Salvation Army who were known to have been knocked down or otherwise brutally assaulted in the United Kingdom was 642. More than one-third of them were women. In addition, 23 children suffered. Some of these people were injured for life. And all because they attended religious meetings in their own buildings or in the open air. In that same year 60 of our buildings were practically wrecked by the rabble. There was no redress. We could obtain neither protection nor reparation.

The most persistent and unrelenting opposition that The Salvation Army had to encounter in what we sometimes call the lawless years came less from the drinking saloons than from the parsonages. The children of this world were for once outdone in malevolence by the children of light! Always the chief opposition to the Army was from the churches. Every conceivable calumny was spread abroad against us. And men tripped up our processions, insulted and assaulted our women, threw sticks and stones, not to mention dead cats and dogs, refused us even the peaceful burial of our dead, invaded our halls and smashed our furniture.

The denunciation reached its height of absurdity when the great Earl of Shaftesbury solemnly stated that, as the result of much study, he had come to the conclusion that The Salvation Army was clearly the Antichrist.

Our officers were refused admission to well-known places of worship at the hour of service, because they were accompanied by poor, unkempt and broken creatures whom Christ came to save. The trouble with the Army was that it was not respectable. A deeper reason for the obloquy which met us was that we were intruders, disturbing the unruffled calm of lip-service which many nice people had mistaken for the religion of Jesus. [Emphasis added.]

Ours was a practical faith. It offered a spiritual charter to the ecclesiastically disfranchised. Because we were what we were, religion which mistakes refinement for abundant life in Christ, or thinks that fine preaching or good music and ornate ceremonies can somehow be a substitute for surrender to God and the service of others—that religion was bound by its very nature to oppose The Salvation Army. And it did. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV).

Bramwell Booth, Echoes and Memories

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