As the foreword reveals, the title of this book was originally that of a single article by the book’s author, published in the UK publication Salvationist. Commissioner Cairns utilised it for a wider readership, recognising that it neatly sums up his important theme.

Like several of the commissioner’s nine previous books, The Sacrament Of The Sacred Moment mines the rich seam of individual Salvationists whose sacrificial lives have revealed and illustrated the empowering grace of God. But what makes it doubly valuable is the topic it covers: the sacraments.

Even in the 14th decade of The Salvation Army’s existence, this issue remains something of a hot potato – more often juggled gingerly than grasped firmly. William Cairns’s masterly handling of the subject is both timely and persuasive.

Six words from his preface will prove definitive to many, though controversial to some: ‘The Salvation Army is not non-sacramental.’

It is undeniably true that Salvation Army congregations do not celebrate Holy Communion with wafers and wine, but the Movement has never been hostile, nor even critical, towards those churches whose congregations do. The value of the ceremony has been recognised, but judged non-essential to Christian faith.

What is essential is the sacramental experience of the spiritual reality of holy communion with Christ. In this regard, Salvationists are fully integrated in the body of Christ. This book delivers not just the verdict but also the evidence. As the author says in his preface: ‘Salvationists have proved that the deep experience of communion with Jesus can be understood and practised without the use of the elements familiar to the various symbolic rites used in most churches.’

All Salvationists owe William Cairns a debt of gratitude for his skilful, authoritative yet warm and loving marshalling of the case.