I stumbled on this article listing books that every Salvationist should read. Actually some of them perhaps every Christian should read. I thought I would share the list as I will be adding at least some of these titles to my long-term ‘to read’ list.
Another quick read this week, as I’m so busy at the moment:
“Army on Its Knees” by Janet Munn and Stephen Court.
This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read on prayer, by any means, but I do like the metaphor (unlike Napolean’s Army which marched on its stomach, The Salvation Army ‘marches’ on its knees in prayer).
The book’s essential purpose seems to be to motivate Salvationists, by means of explaining the why’s and wherefore’s of prayer, without providing anything very much in the way of practical structures or guidelines, which is a little bit disappointing, but the chapter on fasting was very good.
I’d like to switch to fiction for next week, but I’ll also be starting the Bible in 90 Days on top of all my studies, so it may need to be another slim volume until I’ve got into the swing of all the extra reading 🙂
This week’s choice is a book that my mother bought me last year and which has been sitting on the shelf for several months, unread.
“The Grace Outpouring: Becoming a People of Blessing” by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts is another inspirational book documenting the incredible spiritual power being unleashed at Ffald-y-Brenin, a Christian Retreat Centre in Wales that has become a “missional house of prayer” which blesses individuals, groups, building locations, communities and whole localities (not only their own).
Like Catherine Booth’s book last week, there is a kind of infectious passion contained herein which has made me want to change the way I speak, the way I think and the way I behave. Instead of criticising and complaining, I am challenged to bless and invoke God’s blessing.
On the other hand, it could be extremely depressing to read about all the amazing, supernatural workings of God when one’s own experience of faith has not included anything like this. My own background is a mixture of Pentecostal and Cessationist. I have seen some strange and possibly dodgy things in church (and emotional manipulation by means of music to create a fake atmosphere is a pet hate of mine), but I have also been present in rare meetings where the presence of God has been so thick and heavy and beautiful it has been almost tangible.
My Cessationist background (via Baptist Midmissions – American missionaries who ran the church I grew up in) tells me to beware of ‘Strange Fire’ – and I haven’t wanted to look too deeply at the recent controversy because I think that on balance it’s not terribly helpful. Yes, be discerning and ‘test the spirits’. But I admire the Pentecostal earnestness and enthusiasm, and I wouldn’t want to dismiss as ‘demonic’ or ‘Satanic’ what might be a real move of God.
I have had a long on-and-off relationship with the Salvation Army, from Corps Cadets youth group as a teenager, through working (for most of my working life) at THQ in London, to infrequent attendance at various Salvation Army Corps around the country wherever I’ve been living. But this year I am planning to cement our relationship by becoming a soldier – more on that as my application progresses – and I am setting out to read some classic Salvationist texts.
‘Aggressive Christianity’ is a series of addresses given by Catherine Booth. It wouldn’t be quite fair to call her the wife of the Founder, as her influence was substantial, and from the outset women were allowed equal status, rights and responsibilities in the Salvation Army.
The sermons were collected in 1880, but have a surprisingly pertinent, modern feel to them. Excusing the use of some archaic language (which I like actually, as I happen to be a KJV fan), Catherine Booth’s arguments seem just as relevant over 130 years later.
She talks with passion about the imperative for Christians to be at work rescuing people out of the ‘flames of hell’ – she wasn’t just talking of alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and the like of course, but of a real possible future eternity in ‘hell’. Whether or not Christians today believe in future damnation, there are still people for whom life is a living hell, who could be helped if Christians were willing to go out and rescue them. But what if? What if the modern sensitivity and rejection of the whole idea of hell is misplaced? How motivated should a church that believed in hell be to make sure that nobody would perish?
Aggressive Christianity is also a round rejection of ‘easy-believism’, emphasising the imperative for repentance and holiness. A modern discussion would certainly want to explore what is meant by the terms, but Catherine Booth’s passion is infectious, and although many Christians may take issue with some Salvationist Theology, (not only their belief in hell, but also their rejection of Communion and Baptism, and their belief that salvation once gained can subsequently be lost, which appears to be a works-based salvation), I’m inclined to think that this little volume should be required reading for anybody considering going into ministry, and perhaps for all Christians.
This week’s book for my first official read of Read52, courtesy of a charity shop in Plymouth, is “The Kindness of Strangers” by Kate Adie.
It is considerably thicker than it looks in he photo, and I worked out that would need to read just over two long chapters a day to finish it within the week. I have struggled to complete each day’s reading but I plan to read all day Saturday 🙂
I don’t often read biographies (I’d struggle to think of another off the top of my head), but I have always been interested in Kate Adie because she did the same degree as I did… or so I thought!
When I was at UCL, the Scandinavian Studies Department (and especially the Swedish section) trumpeted Kate Adie as their brightest and best, but not only have I now discovered that she actually studied at another university (Newcastle), but I now know that her degree included German as an integral and compulsory component, which the UCL course did not. That rather changes the flavour of the degree, I feel. (Not sure that German would have made international journalists out of us all, but anyway!) 🙂
One interesting aside relating to Scandinavian Studies is that Kate confides that she managed to slip in to the course by the back door, despite not necessarily having the requisite A Level results. When I was at UCL, Scandinavian Studies had become a booby-prize course, occupied mainly by students who couldn’t get into the course they really wanted, which is a shame really, as it is a fascinating subject in its own right.
The majority of the story is of course related to Kate’s journalistic adventures, and she regales with witty, self-deprecating stories of the vagaries of BBC life and the oddities of foreign customs and governments. So far it has been thoroughly enjoyable, funny, interesting and educational. I’m quite pleased with my first pick.