I have believed for some years that the structure of The Salvation Army requires its officers to fill the role of apostles. Indeed I have at times described myself as an apostle. These statements have generally received one of two responses: either that Jesus chose only twelve apostles and hence there can be no modern apostles; or that I am being presumptuous to class myself with the likes of Peter and Paul.
The first claim is patently untrue since the Eleven chose Matthias to replace the dead Judas. And Paul’s claim to be an apostle was accepted by the twelve and confirmed by the acceptance of his letters in the canon of Holy Scripture. Taking the meaning of apostle as “sent one” this must also include the seventy two whom Jesus also appointed and sent out. By extension, if the church is now the Body of Christ on earth and operates under his authority, there must be scope for the appointing of apostles today.
Starting from Ephesians 4:11 Andy Hall began describing the place of apostles in the ministry of the church. Addressing the second objection to my claims, he points out that Paul claimed to be at the rear of the procession, where all the animal dung would collect. A bit like cleaning the toilets! From the story of Paul’s journeys recorded in Acts and the descriptions he gives in his letters of his exploits, its clear Paul didn’t enjoy the high life of global ministry. Apostles have a hard road.
They have in common a vision beyond the current situation and a passion to pursue it. They have too many ideas and need wise friends to discern which is God’s plan, and pastors to consolidate and care for the people.
Some of the characteristics mentioned above have emerged as I have completed team profile or work style questionnaires. It has been good to discover that, contrary to what many have told me, they (and therefore I) have a useful role in church leadership.
Let is pray that The Salvation Army regains its recognition of apostleship in its officers.