On 20 December 2012, a good friend of mine, Jeff Carter, and I decided to form a group on Facebook for Salvationists and former Salvationists (i.e.: members of The Salvation Army) who identified themselves as liberal both theologically as well as politically. We both knew of a couple of other people who considered themselves to be liberal and we wanted to give ourselves a forum where we could discuss those topics.
This became a turning point in my life.
It started out slowly and the discussion was good. We got to know each other and our various beliefs. We talked about issues that confronted us in our everyday life. It was during that time that the terrible shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School took place in Connecticut. We shared our disappointments with each other as we realized that my country would do nothing to curb the violence in our schools, other than what the President could enact via executive order. The division seemed too great in our country.
We celebrated when our group crossed the 200 threshold. People began quoting from the movie, "Fight Club," jokingly saying that we weren't supposed to talk about the group to anyone. When the group crossed over the 300 mark, we celebrated with Spartan 300 memes; although in retrospect, perhaps Gideon's 300 would have been more appropriate.
I noticed something else happening. People in my denomination were beginning to talk about me and not always in a good way. I was at a Men's Conference in Southern Illinois last weekend and more than once, someone made the comment that I was plotting something sinister. This was said in a joking manner, but I felt there was some seriousness in it. In fact, I had one officer tell me that everyone who thinks like I do needs to leave The Salvation Army.
Why? Because I'm a liberal? Because I believe that guns are not a cultural symbol of America, but a blight on our society? Because I have no issue with repealing the Second Amendment? Because I believe that helping the sick should be a mandate in our country and goes along with Matthew 25? Because I believe that we need to be more loving of humanity and less condemning? (Some Christians call this act of condemnation "exposing sin.")
I will admit that I was severely demoralized when this officer told my fellow liberals and me to leave The Salvation Army. This officer believed that our theology was incompatible with the doctrines of The Salvation Army. I don't see how that's possible.
Do we disagree on certain things? Absolutely. Do we always need to fight over them? No.
I love The Salvation Army. I love that we serve those in need. I love that Matthew 25 is our vision and our mission in life. My worldview adds to this and enhances it.
I love the Progressive Salvationist group. I love that it's a safe haven for those of us looking to talk about these issues without fear of reprisals or people putting us down, simply because we are heterodox. I also realize that we are all part of the Body of Christ, helping each other out. To this I say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:18 (NASB): "But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired."