Thursday, March 12, 2009

Salvation Army - To Rank or Not to Rank

This Post is written at the Request of my partner in Ministry, Andy...

As you may or may not know, The Salvation Army Church gives ranks and special commissions to it's ministers. I would like to discuss why I not only think that this is biblically acceptable, but I think it is wise.

Here are the ranks that are now being handed out, and next to that is what is done to receive that rank -

Cadet - Entry into 'College of Officer Training'
Cadet-Lieutenant - Cadets who have had previous experience - generally spend less time in the College of Officer Training
Lieutenant - Graduate from 'College of Officer Training' who have received their "marching orders"
Captain - Five years of Service
Major - Fifteen Years of Service
Lieutenant-Colonel - Major on Special Assignment
Colonel - Major on Special Assignment
Commissioner - Major on Special Assignment
General - Major on Special Assignment

I would like to discuss what I believe are the good and bad parts of this 'Ranking' system. As well as the biblical look of a hierarchy within the clergy.


I think that when looking at the Preisthood within the OT, we can see several things
Exodus 38:21 tells us that the Levities are under the Authority of the High Priest. I think that it is pretty clear that there is an authority structure within the priesthood, and I am really not willing to spend a whole lot of time on the subject, as it is super clear from the OT. I think that there is another authority with in the OT, and that is the office of prophet. Prophets are appointed by God, as messengers to the people of God. Prophets held a special status among the people, this status was different from that of the Priests. Overall, I think that it is clear that there is an authority structure within the OT.

Within the NT I think that we see an even more strong authority structure. I think that the basic outline is as follows:

Christ (God)
Apostles (the 13 - including Paul)
Elders - Pastors - Bishops

This list comes from both Church history and the Scriptures. I am open to restructuring it, but in general I believe that this is the Christian model.

In light of that, I don't think there is anything wrong with the ranking authority of christian leaders, as the Salvation Army does. I think it is wise thing, to let the elders have a hierarchy of leadership. I believe that this is what the Salvation Army does, and I think that there is a lot of wisdom in it. As a final thought, I think that some people take issue the military style of the Salvation Army. I don't see anything that biblically prohibits this, and thus I would say that it falls into the area of Christian liberty.

Here are some bible verses so that you can continue to study this topic of Leadership in the Bible:

1 Peter 5:1-5
Acts 11:29-30
Acts 14:23
Acts 20:28-32
1 Timothy 5:17-19
Titus 1:5-9
Hebrews 13:17

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