Why Social Holiness? – Conclusion

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Conclusion

We conclude with our first question—why social holiness? The initial answer to that question is that we are faithful and obedient in fulfilling the commands of our Lord. But how did social holiness work itself out institutionally?

William Booth had undertaken immense responsibilities with the development of the Darkest England scheme, and as the General of a growing Army he would have to maintain a delicate balance of all ministries of the Army. His love for the Army and commitment to its cause became the dominant force in his life. But what of social holiness, especially in this second sense? Did he intend it to become the engaging force of the Army, depending on so much labor and so much money? What is the most theologically effective way to reach out to the neighbor, and might not the care of the body take precedence over the care of the soul? Booth was clear that we do no service to people if we do not see them holistically—as whole persons whose spiritual as well as physical nurturing was the work of his beloved Army.

Notes

  1. John Wesley, Preface to Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739 in The Works of John Wesley, 14 Vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958) 14:321.
  2. Kenneth J. Collins, Wesley on Salvation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Francis Asbury Press, 1989, p. 101. [See other works by Kenneth Collins]
  3. Ibid.
  4. See Leon O. Hynson, “The Church and Social Transformation: An Ethics of the Spirit,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Vol. 11 (Spring 1976): 49-61.
  5. Wesley, Preface to Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739, 14:321-322
  6. John Wesley, Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth (1748) in The Works of John Wesley (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1984), Vols. 1-4 Sermons edited by Albert C. Outler, 1:533.
  7. The Song Book of The Salvation Army (London, England: The Salvation Army, 1986), song #203.
  8. Theodore Runyon, The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998), p. 113.
  9. Wesley, Sermon on the Mount, IV : 1:540.
  10. Christian Smith, American Evangelicalism Embattled and Thriving (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 97.
  11. Albert Outler, “A Focus on the Holy Spirit: Spirit and Spirituality in John Wesley,” in Thomas C. Oden and Leicester R. Longdon, Essays of Albert C. Outler: The Wesleyan Theological Heritage (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), p. 168.
  12. Two indispensable works dealing with the social ministry of The Christian Ministry and The Salvation Army are Frederick L. Coutts, Bread for My Neighbour: The Social Influence of William Booth (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978), and Jenty Fairbank, Booth’s Boots: Social Service Beginnings in The Salvation Army (London: The Salvation Army, 1983).
  13. William Booth, “Our New Name,” The Salvationist (January 1879), p. 1.
  14. William Booth, “The General’s Address at the Wesleyan Conference,” The War Cry 1 (August 1880), p. 1.
  15. Harold Begbie, The Life of General William Booth, 2 Vols. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920)1:434.
  16. Previous to this, in May of that year, a rescue home for women was opened in Glasgow, Scotland, but that home was evidently closed by March of 1884. Therefore, it is Australia that holds the distinction of beginning the sustained organized social work of The Salvation Army.
  17. Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore: the Epic of Australia’s Founding (New York: Vintage books, 1988), p.1.
  18. Coutts, Bread for my Neighbour: The Social Influence of William Booth, p. 38.
  19. See Roger J. Green, “Catherine Booth, The Salvation Army and the Purity Crusade of 1885,” Priscilla Papers 22:3 (Summer 2008): 9-18.
  20. H. J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, eds. The Victorian City, 2 Vols. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973) 2:595.
  21. William Booth, “The General’s Address,” The War Cry 8 (January 1887), p. 9.
  22. G. Kitson Clark, The Making of Victorian England (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1962), p. 32.
  23. The best and most comprehensive introduction to Charles Booth’s work is Albert Fried and Richard M. Elman, eds., Charles Booth’s London: A Portrait of the Poor at the Turn of the Century, Drawn from His “Life and Labour of the People in London” (New York: Random House, Inc., 1968).
  24. Roy Hattersley, Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and Their Salvation Army (London: Doubleday, 1999), p. 353.
  25. Ibid.
  26. I am indebted to Kenneth G. Hodder for sharing his research on Frank Smith with me, research that he conducted while he was a student at Harvard University. The title of his research paper is “Report and Catalogue for Materials Obtained During Research on Frank Smith, M.P. and the B. B. C. Recording Archives” (September 1, 1978). See also E. I. Champness, Frank Smith, M.P.: Pioneer and Modern Mystic (London: The Whitefriars Press, Ltd., 1943). Smith resigned from the Army and channeled his energies into politics and journalism.
  27. See The Darkest England Social Scheme: A Brief Review of the First Year’s Work (London: International Headquarters, 1891), p. 158. When the deed was publicly executed it was stated that “A copy of the Trust Deed will be sent free to any person who may desire to obtain it” (p. 158).
  28. St. John Ervine, God’s Soldier: General William Booth, 2 Vols. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935) 2:628.
  29. John Kent, Holding the Fort: Studies in Victorian Revivalism (London: Epworth Press, 1978), p. 335.
  30. W. T. Stead, “Letter from W. T. Stead regarding authorship of ‘In Darkest England’”, The Star, January 2, 1891.
  31. “ ‘In Darkest England’ Entirely the General’s Own,” The War Cry (January 10, 1891), p. 7. In his biography of Catherine Booth Stead wrote that he helped Booth “as a kind of voluntary secretary and amanuensis in getting the MSS of ‘Darkest England’ into shape” (W. T. Stead, Catherine Booth (London: James Nisbet & C., Limited, 1900), p. 211).
  32. Ibid. An essay in The Victorian City noted that during the 1889 London dock strike, “Support from institution representatives such as Canon Barnett, Stewart Headlam, William Booth, and Cardinal Manning served both to give a sense of direction to public feeling, and to consolidate the positions of the institutions on the East End.” (2:595). In his essay on William Booth in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1912-1921, Harold Begbie wrote the following: “Deeper acquaintance with the problem he was so compulsively attacking led him to become a social reformer” (“Booth, William [1829-1912],” p. 52).
  33. See “Mrs. Bramwell Booth with the Dockers’ Wives and Children,” The War Cry (September 11, 1889), p. 7; “The Salvation Army and the Strike,” The War Cry (September 28, 1889), p. 2; “Ramblings in the East End,” The War Cry (November 2, 1889), p. 2; and “ ‘272’ Becomes Food and Shelter Headquarters,” The War Cry (November 9, 1889), p. 7.
  34. David Malcolm Bennett, The General: William Booth, 2 Vols. (Xulon Press, 2003) 2:300.
  35. Ibid., 2:309.
  36. Barbara Robinson, “The Wesleyan Foundation of Salvation Army Social Work and Action,” Word & Deed: A Journal of Salvation Army Theology and Ministry 7:1 (November 2004), pp. 38-39.
  37. William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out (London: Funk and Wagnalls, 1890), p. 2.
  38. Hattersley, Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and Their Salvation Army, p. 377.
  39. Tim Macquiban, “Soup and Salvation: Social Service as an Emerging Motif for the British Methodist Response to Poverty in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Methodist History 39:1 (October 2000), p. 32.
  40. William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out, p. 16.
  41. One of the best expressions of the Army’s social ministry being a reflection of the command of Jesus is found in a letter from William Booth to Bramwell Booth written on January 10, 1903. However, even with this biblical justification William still raises the question, “As to whether we get as much real benefit out of the time and labor and ability bestowed upon feeding the poor as we should do if spent in purely spiritual work is a very difficult question to answer” (p. 2). See the William Booth File, The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, London, England. See also the letter from William Booth to Bramwell Booth, April 19, 1911 in the William Booth File, The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, London, England.
  42. See Donald Burke, “The Wesleyan View of Salvation and Social Involvement,” pp. 11-32 in John D. Waldron, ed., Creed and Deed: Toward a Christian Theology of Social Services in The Salvation Army (Toronto: The Salvation Army, 1986).
  43. Donald W. Dayton, “’Good News to the Poor’: The Methodist Experience After Wesley,” chapter 4, pp. 87-88 in M. Douglas Meeks, ed., The Portion of the Poor: Good News to the Poor in the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville, Tennessee: Kingswood Books, 1995).
  44. Ibid., p. 243.
  45. See Bernard Watson, Soldier Saint (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970), especially chapter 17. In an undated letter from Bramwell Booth to Railton, Bramwell wrote, “When you say that you object to the ‘placing of the Salvation work second to the Social’ you only say what we all say” (p. 3). However, he then reprimands Railton for suggesting that even in the General’s public meetings, the General makes the social more important than the spiritual. See the Bramwell Booth File, The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, London, England. On July 9, 1894 ten senior officers in The Salvation Army addressed a letter to “My Dear General” disagreeing with Railton’s actions, recommending that some disciplinary action be taken against Railton, but allowing for the fact that “we cannot but think that Commissioner Railton would never have so acted, but for the physical and mental strain from which he is evidently suffering,” and suggested that “you should order the Commissioner upon a lengthened furlough before coming to any final decision as to the future.” The George Scott Railton File, The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, London, England. It was inconceivable to these leaders that any disagreement with the Booth hierarchy, even that made by so faithful a follower as George Scott Railton, could be made apart from physical and mental strain.
  46. Bennett, The General: William Booth, 2:306.
  47. W. T. Stead, Mrs. Booth of The Salvation Army, p. 208.
  48. Norman H. Murdoch, Origins of The Salvation Army (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1994), p. 165.
  49. Bramwell Booth’s most poignant remarks about the Darkest England Scheme came in a newspaper interview after he became General upon the death of his father. See the Daily News and Leader (October 1912), p. 1.
  50. Bennett, The General: William Booth, 2:316. Booth did thank Stead in the preface to In Darkest England and the Way Out, although even that acknowledgment was a bit backhanded in that he did not mention Stead by name, and made it clear to the reader that this man was “not in any way connected with The Salvation Army.”
  51. Murdoch, Origins of The Salvation Army, pp. 152-153. For some examples of Smith’s writing see Frank Smith, “Salvation Socialism,” The War Cry (December 25, 1889), pp. 17-24; Frank Smith, “The Battle-Cry of the Social Reform Wing,” All The World (August, 1890), pp. 355-358; Frank Smith, “”A Look at the ‘Wing’,” All The World (October 1890), pp. 510-513; and Frank Smith, “Wanted, Samaritans!” All The World (December 1890), pp. 620-623.
  52. In his Origins of The Salvation Army Murdoch mentioned that Suzie Forest Smith, an American and Vassar graduate who became a Salvation Army officer in 1889,“claims to have assisted with the writing of In Darkest England and the Way Out in 1890” (p. 156) but her claim has proved impossible to support from other writings. She did write an analysis of the Darkest England Scheme in 1891, which the British Library has erroneously attributed to her sister, Elizabeth Reeves Swift. See The Darkest England Social Scheme: A Brief Review of the First Year’s Work (London: International Headquarters, 1891).
  53. William Booth, “Salvation for Both Worlds,” All the World 5 (January 1889), p. 2.
  54. See Roger J. Green, “Theological Roots of In Darkest England and the Way Out,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 25:1 (Spring 1990), pp. 83-105; and Norman H. Murdoch, “William Booth’s In Darkest England and the Way Out: A Reappraisal,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 25:1 (Spring 1990), pp. 106-116. The failure to connect the social ministry to Booth’s theology is apparent in Hattersley’s recent biography of the Booths. Gertrude Himmelfarb noted this in her review of Hattersley’s book, “First Save the Body, Then the Soul,” The New York Times Book Review (July 9, 2000), pp. 14-15. Himmelfarb noted the following: “What did distinguish the Booths from most of the others was their linking of social and religious salvation. Today, when faith-based institutions are being proposed as the alleviation, if not the solution, of some social problems, we might reasonably look to the Booths for guidance and counsel. Yet here ‘Blood and Fire’ is disappointing, for there is little attempt to establish the connection, let alone a casual relationship, between their social and religious agendas. In the epilogue Hattersley intimates that perhaps there was none: ‘It is not necessary to believe in instant sanctification—or in sanctification in any form—to admire and applaud their work of social redemption.’ He means this in praise of his heroes, but it may be the most damning thing that can be said of them, for it deprives them of what might have been their best claim to our attention and to a place in the pantheon of eminent Victorians” (p. 15).
  55. William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out, p. 257.
  56. Ibid. See also pp. 35, 205, 264, 268.
  57. Ibid., p. 45. See also pp. 104, 110, 218. Begbie claimed that “his social work was chiefly an excuse for getting at the souls of men” (Begbie, “Booth, William [1829-1912]”, p. 51).
  58. William Booth, To My Officers: A Letter from the General on His Eightieth Birthday (St. Albans: Salvation Army Printing Works, 1909), p. 44. See also pp. 19-20; Begbie, The Life of General William Booth, 2:113, 329, 331; Philip D. Needham, “Redemption and Social Reformation: A Theological Study of William Booth and His Movement” [M.Th. Thesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1967] pp. 74-76, 80, 83-84.
  59. See William Booth, “The Millennium; or, the Ultimate Triumph of Salvation Army Principles,” All the World 6 (August 1890), pp. 337-343. See also William Booth, “My Idea of the Millennium,” The Review of Reviews 2 (July-December, 1890), p. 130, and William Booth, “All things New: A New Year’s Message from the New World, All The World 15:1 (January 1895), pp. 3-7.
  60. John Coutts, The Salvationists (London: A. R. Mowbray and Company, Ltd., 1978), p. 142.
  61. Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church, 2 Vols. (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1987) 2:297.
  62. Macquiban, “Soup and Salvation: Social Service as an Emerging Motif for the British Methodist Response to Poverty in the Late 19th Century,” pp. 35-36. See also K. S. Inglis, Churches and the Working Classes in Victorian England (London: Routledge, Kegan and Paul, 1963), p. 211; and Norris Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums: Evangelical Social Work 1865-1920 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977), p. 173.
  63. Begbie, The Life of General William Booth, 2:84.
  64. Ervine, God’s Soldier: General William Booth, 2:784.
  65. “New General & His Plans,” Daily News and Leader (October 1912), p. 1.

 


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