Darkness and Deliverance: 125 years of the In Darkest England scheme,
October 2015 marked the 125th anniversary of the publication of General William Booth’s influential book: In Darkest England and The Way Out. This book and the scheme within it formed the basis for much of the subsequent work of The Salvation Army. This new volume Darkness and Deliverance: 125 years of the In Darkest England scheme, edited by Matthew Seaman, brings together contributors from around the world to explore aspects of this significant book and to consider the current and future implications of this scheme, particularly for Salvationists and The Salvation Army.
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In 1890, General William Booth outlined a scheme in a book titled In Darkest England and the Way Out, offering a plan he argued that ‘if realised would solve the worst problems of modern society’. This scheme aimed to see people saved spiritually from sin and temptation, as well as physically from the pollution and poverty that pervaded the increasingly industrialised cities of English society.
In Darkest England was a popular and controversial book when published 125 years ago. However, as Craig Campbell has noted, due to the distance in time and culture between Booth and today, ‘the language can appear quaint, the analysis inadequate, and the style somewhat anecdotal’. Yet, Campbell adds, ‘In Darkest England articulates foundational principles… [society] must take responsibility to care for its citizens, and in this the Church is also responsible. Charity alone is not enough; the causes of need and injustice must also be addressed. The individual person has value.’
Hence, In Darkest England has remained an influential and important text not only for Salvationists but also for Christians concerned with the biblical mandate for justice and the treatment of the poor, outcast and alien in today’s society.
Today millions of people in societies across the world struggle to survive or deal with the often harmful physical, social, environmental and spiritual effects of poverty, inequality, unemployment, crime and incarceration, disease and health issues, addiction, homelessness and more. It is timely to reflect on the impact, the insights, the past applications and potential future of Booth’s significant work for Salvationists, the wider Church, society at large and, indeed, the entirety of God’s household here on Earth.
When we reflect on Booth’s challenge through In Darkest England after 125 years, many questions arise. One question is simply: How are we going? Is Booth’s manifesto still valid in the 21st century? How could The Salvation Army corporately—and Salvationists individually—be living more practically holy lives in response to the Gospel in our varied contexts?
The contributors to this new book Darkness and Deliverance explore various historical aspects of In Darkest England, and explore what Booth’s scheme might mean for us today.
Even as there is so much more to be considered, unearthed and conversed about regarding the influential work that is In Darkest England and the Way Out, I am thrilled that this collection of impressive writings from a group of great people from around the world has become a reality.
Darkness and Deliverance does not attempt to provide all the answers; however, it does hope to encourage, challenge and spark further conversations and practical actions.
It is sincerely hoped that this gathering of minds around the theme of In Darkest England will be of use and benefit to Salvationists, The Salvation Army, local communities, wider societies and indeed to all of God’s loved creation.
Contributors to Darkness and Deliverance include:
David Malcolm Bennett, Jason Davies-Kildea, Roger Green, Harold Hill, Garth Hentzschel, Rachel Hentzschel, James E. Read, Tom Schemp, Matthew Seaman, Yasmin Van Gaalen-Prentice, Andrew Walton and Lorraine Wheeler.
Chapters in Darkness and Deliverance include:
· Theological Roots of In Darkest England and the Way Out· In Darkest England: Whose scheme was it?· The Public Reception and Impact of In Darkest England· Out of Darkest England: The effect of the In Darkest England scheme on The Salvation Army· The Impact of the Forgotten Supplement to In Darkest England: An analysis of Booth-Tucker’s Darkest India· Daily Life at Fort Amity: How Chicago paupers became Colorado farmers· A Way Out—The ‘Travelling Hospital’: Its inception, implementation and possible future· Socio-Political Holiness ‘In the World’· Moral Lunatics and the End of the Line· In Darkest Creation? Broadening deliverance to the whole oikos· Grounding In Darkest England: Personal, social and ecological regeneration· Contemporary Expressions of In Darkest England thinking· All This Apparatus: A practitioner reflection· Jesus, Justice and The Salvation Army
A challenge from the final paragraph of William Booth’s In Darkest England:
‘I am only one man among my fellows, the same as you. The obligation to care for these lost and perishing multitudes does not rest on me any more than it does on you. To me has been given the idea, but to you the means by which it may be realised. The plan has now been published to the world; it is for you to say whether it is to remain barren, or whether it is to bear fruit in unnumbered blessings to all.’