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Why does The Salvation Army have a flag?

Catherine B quote 2 Why does TSA have a flagCatherine Booth quoted Isaiah 11:12 when presenting the flag to Carlisle Corps in northern England in September, 1880. In this town, there was very serious persecution of Salvationists (and several head wounds), yet despite the conflict, there were hundreds and hundreds who attended the meetings.

She states, “Now, I have to present a flag. People say, “Cannot you do without a flag?”Yes, but we can do better with one. In a town where we have large processions, let by a little Captain like Wee Martha, here the flag is almost indispensable to lead the procession. And why should not God have a flag? Is He not worthy of it? And, besides, we find that we are thus fulfilling prophesy:

He will raise a flag among the nations

and assemble the exiles of Israel.

He will gather the scattered people of Judah

from the ends of the earth. – Isaiah 11:12 [NLT (updated version)]

And the Army Mother continues to say:

And God’s people shall go forth, terrible as an army with banners. What we want in this Army is men and women full of the Holy Ghost, and we do not care much for any other qualification. All the Soldiers stand on their feet while I present Captain Sayers with the flag. There are enough of you, if you only get full of the Holy Ghost, to shake Carlisle.

Three years later, James Conner Bateman would pen the words of Song 782:

We’ll shout aloud throughout the land
The praises of our God,

We’ll fight beneath our flag unfurled,

Kept by his precious blood.

Salvation full shall be our cry,

Whatever men may say;

We’ll fight for God until we die;

We’re bound to win the day.

Salvation soldiers, fighting on,

Be more courageous still;

To God the whole world shall yet belong,

And bend its stubborn will.

So we’ll lift up the banner on high,

   The salvation banner of love;

We’ll fight beneath its colors till we die,

   Then go to our home above.

About Steve Bussey

Steve Bussey
Steve is the Co-Director of Salvation Factory. He is passionate about understanding the beliefs, values and behaviors of Salvationism and translating these with innovation and creativity into new expressions in the life and ministry of The Salvation Army.