To Battle We Go: Fix Bayonets!

Jul 10, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

To Battle We Go: Fix Bayonets!

By: Dr. Steve Kellner

We live in an era of awesomely powerful military weapons, astonishingly accurate and lethal. But it may surprise you that one rather old-fashioned weapon is feared by combat troops above all others: the bayonet. Because it's one thing to be wounded or killed by an impersonal and oftentimes unseen weapon. Who knows? You may get lucky or find some way to protect yourself from even the most powerful modern weapons. But it's quite another to be run through by a foot long knife at close quarters by a single enemy soldier you can see, hear, and touch.

For this reason, it has been common historically for combat troops to weather the fiercest fire from all sorts of weapons with their lines intact, only to break and run when the enemy gets close enough and desperate enough to make a bayonet charge. I say desperate because bayonet charges often come when the attacking unit is outnumbered and out of ammunition. These bayonet charges were so common in our early military history that a special bugle call was written to signal them, and it's still used in ceremonies today.

Another surprise to many is that our military services continue today to teach the use of the bayonet as part of basic training. Actually using a bayonet in combat nowadays is exceedingly rare (although not unheard of), but the "spirit of the bayonet," that is, an aggressive and personal warfighting attitude, is still best conveyed by teaching the art of the bayonet charge.

How would the "spirit of the bayonet" translate to soldiers of The Salvation Army? I'm glad you asked! First, the whole armor of God does not include long-range weapons. The sword of truth must be used at close quarters, in hand-to-hand combat, if you will. Influencing others for Christ is an up close and personal business. Every Salvationist must be trained to have this aggressive and personal evangelical spirit.

Second, the forces of Satan fear this kind of personal Christian warfare the most. A Salvation Soldier getting close enough to an unbeliever with the gospel to be seen, heard, and touched will make Satan break and run.

Third, our programs and services can get people in the building, but they are like modern long-range weapons, too distant to have a personal effect. We can operate a well-oiled program that has no spiritual impact.

Lastly, let us admit that our corps programs and worship services are numerically not what they once were. But this is not as much of a disadvantage as you might think. Just because we are outnumbered and running short of program "ammunition" does not mean we can't have an impact for Christ. We just need individual Salvationists to fix their bayonets and make a charge.

I think I hear the bugle call now. Fix bayonets! Charge!

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