Way back in June I started a discussion of The Salvation Army’s new Handbook of Doctrine, focusing on the section that deals with the Sacraments. I indicated then that I was working on an article for the Rubicon on this topic. The article turned into two short articles, and they’ve been posted in recent weeks, here and here.
The two posts point out two changes made in the new HOD: 1) a shift of emphasis, from divine agency to human agency, and 2) the addition of a claim to a divine calling to non-observance. Point #1 is not terribly concerning, although I prefer the more theocentric teaching found in the 1999 handbook, Salvation Story. Point #2 is a much more serious problem, because it touches on foundational issues of authority in doctrinal teaching.
I hope Salvationists will consider carefully whether or not they are willing to support the claim that God himself has called them to not observe sacraments. I am not willing to go along with this claim, because there is no way to establish it on the basis of scripture or Christian tradition. I could have written a lot more in my post on this issue, but I’ve tried to get to the heart of the matter and to state it succinctly. I’d welcome your comments and feedback.