JAC Online

Response to Pillar Three Of General Eva Burrows’ Agenda for the Future
by Colonel Ian Barr

“To reaffirm our basic stance on the authority and validity of the Scriptures, both as the basis of our faith and as a guide for Christian conduct.”


General Eva Burrows was a gifted public speaker and preacher who communicated the Good News about Jesus in plain and easily understood language without minimising the power of the message contained in the pages of the Bible. In this respect, as in many others, she was very much a worthy successor of William Booth. The Founder was also a gifted and plain-spoken speaker and writer, able to speak to the very soul without reverting either to obscure theological language or religious jargon.


General Burrows wrote and presented her Agenda for the Future in 1987. The material I shall quote from the Founder was written and published in 1885.


Burrows’ stated aim was agenda was to ‘persuade salvationists to study the Scriptures more deeply and to apply them more relevantly to daily life.’


In 1885 Booth took the opportunity of a new translation to encourage study and application of biblical truth to the everyday life of the believer:

‘… I should very much like to see a Bible rendered into the English language as now spoken by English speaking people throughout the world.’


Nevertheless, Booth looked beyond access to the Bible, he looked beyond the mere reading of the Bible.

‘It (the Bible) gives us everything in the way of a written revelation that is necessary for salvation, holy living and our welfare.’


The two Generals are in complete agreement: the study of Scripture should result in the moral and spiritual renewal, and Holy Spirit empowerment of the individual, and the conversion of individuals and communities

‘Every Salvationist should be a living walking, fighting Bible, which can be seen and read, and felt by every soul about him.’ (Booth)


Both Generals were open to new thinking and new methods, but neither was a great proponent of biblical criticism or theology or as a field of study for its own sake.


As a relatively young doctrine tutor I recall having a conversation with General Eva about the training of officers. 


Asked if she thought our training programmes were too eclectic, she immediately simplified the terminology – ‘Do you mean too varied? We train officers for the work they have to do, we don’t run theological colleges. Then she smiled, looked me in the eye and said “However, we can call on our theologians when we need them.” It was a kindly chastening, but a chastening nevertheless.


William Booth’s admonition against what is sometimes called ‘bibliolatry’ is equally pertinent:

‘Great as is the value of the Bible, it is possible to exalt it too highly. Some have put it in place of God. The letter of it rather than its spirit has been held in chief regard. Others have made the mistake of regarding it as the only revelation God has made to the world. It contains the fullest and clearest, but not the only, light He has given us.’

… It is important to notice also that it is possible to underestimate the Bible. That is a danger to which many of our people are exposed.’


The hundred years or so between the two documents saw a massive expansion of scientific knowledge, and a distinct change to a more critical approach to the text and form of Scripture in the field of biblical study. Some Christians have coined expressions such as ‘infallible’ and ‘inerrant’ to ward of these influences, seeking to strengthen the foundations of their faith in the Bible as the Word of God. Other Christians have found their faith strengthened by a sense that the Bible is no less the Word of God for being studied in the light of science and scholarship.


As William Booth concluded:

‘There seems to be only one thing left to be done with it (the Bible) and that is to give a literal and faithful and understandable translation of it in practice.


Let us live it; live the real things – live the Christ-life.


















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