Assess the extent to which Catherine Booth has contributed to the development and expression of Christianity.
Catherine Booth has strongly contributed to the expression and development of Christianity. Through developing the organisation The Salvation Army, Booth addressed discriminatory issues present in the Christian church such as the inequality of women and exclusion of the lower class. Booth has influenced, and still continues to influence Christian society by displaying female equality in the church, workplace and home. Her charity work through The Salvation Army altered Christianity’s perspective of assisting all people in need and not distinguishing between “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. Booth adapted her church to make it more holy, sacred and appealing to all in society, she placed emphasis on accepting the poor so that more people can go back to god.
Catherine Booth influenced the Christian Church’s belief of women’s rights. During her lifetime the Christian Church believed it was heretical to allow a woman to preach and teach adults. Booth began her work preaching in her home, then teaching in the Dockland parishes of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey1, and conducting evangelistic rallies. She was convinced that women had an equal right to preach and teach. This is displayed in her brochure “Female ministry; or woman’s right to preach” where she stated “Why should a woman be confined exclusively to the kitchen and the distaff, any more than man to the field and workshop.”2 Booth also pointed out that the first people who proclaimed the news of the resurrection of Jesus were women. Therefore, due to the strong leadership roles of women in Jesus’s life, women have as much responsibility for the gospel as men. During her work of preaching, Booth received much criticism from Christians and the church, but she also challenged a lot of minds and became a role model for female ministry. Booth was a full and equal partner in establishing the well know organisation, The Salvation Army, which was initially known as The Christian Mission3. Due to her strong role in creating this charity Booth was proclaimed with the title “Mother of an Army”. Yet again, the salvation army received much censure from the government and Christian variants such as the Church of England for allowing women to have the same rights as men. Lord Shaftesbury, an evangelist and politician in her time stated Booth was an “elevation of women to man’s status”4. The impact and influence of the Salvation Army and it’s strong role of women let the Church of England to fear another schism in Christianity. When Catherine married William Booth in 1865 he initially disagreed with her beliefs of equality, especially in the church. Although, it wasn’t long before the couple announced their relationship as equal5, William even stated in relation to Catherine’s role in the Salvation Amy “the best men in my army are the women.”6 Catherine Booth was, and continues to be an example of female equality in the church, workplace and home. Her actions in the 19th century influenced further Christian developments such as the feminist theology in the 20 and 21st century. Booth’s example continues to change and develop Christian beliefs in female equality; the majority of Christian churches now express women as equal and support their contribution in religious practices.
Through her strong belief and acts on social justice, Catherine Booth has developed the expression of social justice in Christianity. She displayed how normal people, normal Christians can help and impact others by adhering to the two focus’ of social justice, direct aid and raising awareness to change unjust structures. Booth has always had this passion for social justice; when she was a child playing in her yard she watched the arrest of a drunken man. Instead of running away in disgust, Booth went and kept the man company, holding his until they reached the jail7. Moral stories like Catherine’s...
Bibliography: -Paul, B; Doret, K. 2010. HSC Studies of Religion I&II. Glebe, NSW: Pascal Press.
-Indiana University. 2012. Female ministry; Or, Women’s Right to Preach the Gospel. http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/vwwp/view?docId=VAB7105. (accessed 10/11/12)
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