Catherine Booth: Laying the Theological Foundations of a Radical Movement

By John Read

A biography of Catherine Booth, examining an often overlooked aspect of her legacy – her role in shaping the theological outlook of the Salvation Army.

ISBN: 9780718893200


Catherine Booth’s achievements – as a revivalist, social reformer, champion of women’s rights, and, with her husband William Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army – were widely recognised in her lifetime. However, Catherine Booth’s life and work has since been largely neglected. This neglect has extended to her theological ideas, even though they were critical to the formation of Salvationism, the spirituality of the movement she cofounded. This book examines the implicit theology that undergirds Catherine Booth’s Salvationist spirituality and reveals the ethical concerns at the heart of her soteriology and the integral relationship between the social and evangelical aspects of Christian mission in her thought. As ‘Mother of
The Salvation Army’ she was a British theologian and church leader with a rare if not unique intellectual and theological perspective, not only that of a woman but also as the conduit through whom Salvationist spirituality was first formed.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 240

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

John Read is a Salvation Army officer currently serving as the Army’s ecumenical officer for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.


1. Introduction
2. Salvation
3. The Pursuit of Holiness
4. Doctrine of Holiness
5. The Church
6. Ministry
7. The Sacraments
8. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

Many books describe Catherine Booth the person, but no one has demonstrated her pivotal role in shaping the spirituality of the Salvation Army better than Read. His penetrating reading of primary sources identifies the core evangelical and theological convictions that underpin her spirituality. Booth was not only the theological founder of the Army; she was a far more important practical theologian than many have imagined. Read’s book is lively and persuasive.
Kent Brower, Senior Research Fellow, Nazarene Theological College

John Read has produced an outstanding study of Catherine Booth’s theology, which he argues underlies her Salvationist spirituality. … Read shows convincingly how Catherine shaped Army self-understanding and was its leading apologist. He offers important new perspectives on the intellectual development of a radical Christian movement.
Ian Randall, Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Seminary

Throughout the book the various influences on Catherine’s theological position are considered and … the thoroughness with which these interplays of thought are studied is one of the greatest strengths of the book.
Hugh Osgood, Churches Together in England

Catherine Booth is rightly honored for the crucial role she played in shaping the Salvation Army and for her contribution to social reform and women’s rights in the second half of the nineteenth century. Despite that recognition, in-depth, academic studies of her life and work have been thin. So, John Read’s scholarly and eminently readable book is a very welcome volume. It deserves to be widely read.
Chick Yuill, author of Moving in the Right Circles

Previous writing on Catherine Booth – a cofounder of The Salvation Army – has been broadly biographical, but this book concentrates on the the theology … The book reveals some of the major debates that were hot topics in some 19th Century Christian circles: how to understand the atonement, whether you needed a very personal experience of salvation, the relationship between prevenient grace and personal choice in relation to faith, the place of sacraments in the life of the church, the risks of antinomianism etc … Comparisons with today’s renewal movements are invited by this book too. The Booths were inspired to live a Christianity that was faithful to the first generation of Christians. Is that hope as lively today? Are we as hungry to be faithful to the apostolic church?
Rev Susan Durber, in Reform Magazine, May 2014

Christ-like response to injustice and inequality remains as relevant as ever.
Ted Harrison, in Church Times, 20 June 2014

This volume engages with the work and teaching rather than with the person of Catherine Booth … the author uses the first three chapters to examine her doctrine of salvation, which embraced the doctrines of justification and sanctification, and the way this doctrine relates to the birth of the Salvation Army. Another set of three chapters is concerned with Catherine Booth’s doctrines of church, ministry, and sacraments which derive from her doctrine of salvation.
Journal of Contemporary Religion, Issue 29.2