Sunday, February 10, 2008

Salvationist Sacramentalism

The topic of sacrament rises and falls within The Salvation Army on a regular basis, yet it rarely concludes with a resolution that is satisfactory to all who are part of the discussion. Some will argue that Salvationists (alongside the Quakers) are non-sacramental, others (more correctly) that the Salvationist position is that all of life is potentially sacramental. Left between these 'nothing' and 'everything' stances, many Salvationists continue find themselves a little lost when it comes to this subject.

I understand a sacrament to be a symbol or a sign which represents something much greater, a pointer to the sacred. As such, I believe that engagement with the poor and the marginalised can be helpfully understood as a sacrament in The Salvation Army. Salvationists find and give expression to God's presence in this world through engagement in mission with the poor. This is what William Booth was referring to when he spoke of The Sacrament of The Good Samaritan. I find this a much more helpful understanding of sacrament, which is rooted in our history, biblically consistent, practically-based and creates a valuable link between the spiritual and social missions of our movement. What do you think?

No comments: