Also see James Ryle.. below
Promise Keepers has the potential to be harnessed for the end time warfare being trumpeted by Dominionist leadership. In other words to become part of “Joel’s Army”. This connection has already been drawn by some of the leaders of both the Dominionist and Promise Keepers Camps. See
Promise Keepers, The Vineyard & Joel’s Army And Promise Keepers And Joel’s Army
((C) Copyright 1994, Media Spotlight)
Anticipation hangs heavy over the stadium as some 27,000 men make their way to seats becoming increasingly sparse. The mood is festive as large beach balls are punched with vigor, sending them on a never-ending course throughout the crowd. A Styrofoam glider wafts its way from the upper regions, accompanied by ooohs and aaahs. Appearing to nose toward a crash, it suddenly catches a small thermal and lifts itself a little higher. Each time it descends into the crowd it is caught by someone and again sent on its way.
A small group of men on one side of the stadium begins to chant: "We love Jesus; yes we do! We love Jesus, how 'bout you?" The shout grows louder as more voices join in. Soon the other side of the stadium picks up the challenge. No one wins, it's a tie as to which side shouts loudest.
An announcement goes out over the speakers, asking the men to stop flying paper airplanes as a precaution against possible eye damage. A ripple begins to form in one corner. Before long it makes its way into a wave, circling the stadium, as men rise from their seats, arms raised, to shout. At first those on the stadium floor can merely pivot in place, watching the wave encircle them. Then, they, too, join in as a group at the end of the circle rises, sending the wave diagonally across the stadium floor.
The appointed time to begin the program has come and gone, but there is no impatience as the men are caught up in their boyish festivities. It's a warm summer day, everyone is having fun. So what's the rush?
About 20 minutes go by, most everyone oblivious to the delay. Suddenly a low rumble (is it thunder?) begins softly and becomes louder. It's the sound of a jet aircraft piercing the stadium from the huge speakers strategically placed for maximum effectiveness. The large screen displays the takeoff of a jumbo jet as the announcer welcomes the crowd to the flight for restored manhood.
The stadium, full now, erupts in a cheer. These men have come for something special; they have come to the Promise Keepers convention in Portland, Oregon. They expect to hear words that will kindle in them a zeal for commitment to their role as men at home, in their church, and in their community.
A CALL TO ACTION
The first speaker, Greg Laurie, gives an impassioned message, calling for response to the offer of salvation or recommitment to Christ. To thunderous applause, about 3,000 men stream from every area of the stadium to take their position in front of the stage. A good beginning to an emotionally charged day just getting under way.
Speaker follows speaker, building on the Promise Keepers' theme to "Seize the Day!" Men are encouraged to take their rightful position of leadership and involvement in their churches, in their homes, and in their communities.
Closing the festivities, the founder of Promise Keepers, Bill McCartney, displays his talent for motivating men---a talent that has won him national acclaim as head football coach for the University of Colorado. Toward the end of his pep talk, McCartney calls for all the pastors present to come forward for prayer. Thousands of men respond, demonstrating the pastoral support for this new and unique outreach. When McCartney urges the crowd to demonstrate their appreciation for them they are rewarded with such prolonged, enthusiastic cheering that one might suspect it could be heard in Vancouver, Washington.
The men are dismissed to their homes, charged with excitement, determined to be "men of integrity." They have renewed their commitment to their role as husband, father, church member, and American. Some have determined to become Point Men or Ambassadors, taking the Promise Keepers program into their churches.
Point Men are the primary contacts with the churches. They inform of conferences, training seminars and resources, and organize promotion of Promise Keepers conferences. Ambassadors introduce Promise Keepers to the churches in the communities, and recruit Point Men.
No matter what one may think of Promise Keepers, one must be impressed with the sheer energy, organization and ability to move men to action that is characteristic of a Promise Keepers convention. A movement of this magnitude, having arisen in the course of four short years, warrants study. The enthusiasm expressed by virtually everyone who has heard of Promise Keepers demonstrates that something of importance is occurring. Nearly everyone to whom I've revealed that I am doing a study of Promise Keepers has reacted in the same manner: screwing up their faces they exclaim, "Don't tell me there's something wrong with Promise Keepers!'
Can anything really be that good? Is any organization so without blemish that it merits blind loyalty and rejection of any fair criticism? The Lord promised that at the end He would present to Himself a church without spot or blemish. We know that the church is nowhere near that condition. So why would we expect that any organization whose aim is to impact all the churches with their philosophy would be without spot or blemish---especially in view of the diverse and numerous contributors to the organization's messages?
It's precisely because Promise Keepers promotes the messages of varied teachers---from psychologists to charismatics, to fundamentalists---that discernment is essential. Let us be encouraged that today there is a genuine desire among men to take seriously their responsibilities before God. But let's not be blind about the frailties of men-even men who hold all good intentions for the pursuit of excellence in their Christian walk.
A HISTORY OF PROMISE KEEPERS
While on an automobile trip from Denver to Pueblo, Colorado in 1990, University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney was speaking with a friend about the need for a men's ministry. During a luncheon at which he spoke, he noticed several fathers in attendance with their sons. This brought to mind Proverbs 27:17: Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Within weeks, McCartney brought several others together for prayer and a brainstorming. session, and Promise Keepers was born.
Writing in the Promise Keepers' book, What Makes a Man?, Leighton Ford conveys what Bill McCartney told him was his number one goal in life.'
What he said has stuck with me to this day. He said, "We want to beat Notre Dame and want to be number one. But my real goal is to use what influence I have to help raise up a generation of promise keepers. I think we need people in our country who will be promise keepers---in our families, in our businesses, in our public life, in everything (Leighton Ford, What Makes a Man? Twelve Promises That Will Change Your Life, Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1992, p. 18).
Promise Keepers growth has been phenomenal. 4,200 men attended their first convention at the Coors' Event Center in Boulder, Colorado, in 1991. Their next convention in 1992 drew 22,000 men. 1993 saw 50,000 men attend the Promise Keepers convention. The total for 1994 will near 300,000 men at seven conventions, representing a growth rate of 600% in one year alone! It Is projected that, in 1995, up to 750,000 men, including 60,000 pastors, will attend Promise Keepers conventions. The goal for 1996 is for one million men to meet in Washington D.C. as a witness to the nation of God's power In the lives of men.
Although Bill McCartney is credited with founding Promise Keepers, today he is basically the figurehead. The administrative duties for the organization are in the hands of its president, Randy Phillips, who currently has 80 fulltime workers. According to McCartney, "it's growing by leaps and bounds Bill McCartney, message given at Promise Keepers Convention, Portland, Oregon, June 18, 1994). Phillips attributes the growth to a new move of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Gary Oliver, master of ceremonies at the Promise Keepers convention in Portland, Oregon, stated that Promise Keepers receives 10,000 phone calls and up to 5,000 pieces of mail per day (Gary Oliver, message given at Promise Keepers Convention, Portland, Oregon, June 18, 1994).
In practical terms, much of the Promise Keepers success can be attributed to certain men who have given their wholehearted endorsement. These include Bill Bright, Gary Smalley, and psychologist, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. These men's influence within the Christian community touches millions of lives. Dobson has promoted Promise Keepers most effectively through his nationwide broadcasts over hundreds of radio stations. He urges wives to get their husbands involved. Almost since its inception, Promise Keepers has become a topic of mention on these programs several times. Today there is hardly a church---at least among those that would call themselves "evangelical'---that has not been impacted to some degree by Promise Keepers.
Promise Keepers operates on the belief that God wants to reestablish men in leadership and responsibility in three areas: home, church and community. To accomplish this, says McCartney, men must commit to what he calls the three non-negotiables of manhood: integrity, commitment and action (Bill McCartney, What Makes a Man? op. cit., p. 11).
If you were to take the word integrity and reduce it to its simplest terms you'd conclude that a man of integrity is a promise keeper. He's a guy who, when he says something, can be trusted. When he gives his word, you can take it to the bank. His word is good (Ibid., p. 12).
But, as McCartney notes, being a promise keeper is easier said than done. It takes genuine commitment to fulfill one's promises, and that commitment must be translated into action.
The philosophy of Promise Keepers is best summed up in its "Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper":
Promise 1: A Man and His God: "A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God's Word in the power of the Holy Spirit."
Promise 2: A Man and His Mentors: "A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises."
Promise 3: A Man and His Integrity: "A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity."
Promise 4: A Man and His Family: "A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and biblical values."
Promise 5: A Man and His Church: "A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving his time and resources."
Promise 6: A Man and His Brothers: "A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity."
Promise 7: A Man and His World: "A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
(Various writers, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family Publishing Co., 1994).
Certainly on the face of it, no one can argue with any of these statements. Nor can anyone deny that the zeal inspired through the electrically charged atmosphere of a Promise Keepers convention appears to be an effective means to motivate men toward these ideals. Certainly men must take the role of leadership in their homes and church fellowships if they will be in obedience to God's Word. And male leadership in government and the community is to be desired. One evidence of a nation's fall from grace is that women will rule over it (Isaiah 3:12).
Promise Keepers has much to offer in affirmation of this truth. But a Promise Keepers convention isn't going to go far beyond a cursory explanation of, and challenge to commit to, the seven promises. In order to get to the heart of Promise Keepers, one must read extensively through their literature. This we have done. We also interviewed Randy Phillips whom we thank for much of the information contained herein.
While we find much with which we would be in agreement with Promise Keepers---even enthusiastic agreement---there are areas of concern that require consideration by anyone interested in involving themselves or their fellowship with Promise Keepers.
Since Promise Keepers does not have its own publishing house, their books are published by others---principally, Focus on the Family and NavPress. Their magazine, New Man, is published by Strang Communications, publishers of Charisma magazine. Sadly, these publishers represent some of the strongest promoters of psychology and aberrant doctrine.
It should be noted that, inasmuch as Promise Keepers endorses and publishes the writings of a diverse group of men, there are some conflicting statements (some good, some bad) found from one person to another among Promise Keepers' materials and those they recommend. It's a mixed bag of human wisdom and biblical truth. Unfortunately, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. And it's difficult to say, Thus saith Promise Keepers. Randy Phillips has indicated that much is left to individual preference. There is no discernment offered from the top.
The issue of self-love is one on which we find some differences of opinion among Promise Keepers writers. On the biblical side of the issue we find Don Osgood's statement in What Makes a Man?
The reason love of possessions is wrong is that it is the way we get trapped into preoccupation with ourselves. Real love looks out for someone, wishes good for someone, gives to someone. But love of possessions is loving ourselves, taking care of us, wishing good for us, giving to us. A family where each one is acquiring something just for self is a bankrupt family, whether or not the money has run out. And it usually won't be long before the money runs out. If we truly love someone, we are willing to deny ourselves (Don Osgood, What Makes a Man? op. cit., p. 97).
But Osgood's teaching is in contrast to the teachings of Gary Smalley and John Trent, found in the same book!
The degree of self control you have in your life is in direct proportion to the degree of acceptance you have for yourself. Put another way, if you don't value yourself, you won't pull in the reins on actions and attitudes that will affect you for the worse.... If you're caught up in the first steps of any addiction or twenty miles down the road, there's a hole in your heart, an inner hurt, and dislike of self that can make you worthy of failure, but not successes (Gary Smalley and John Trent, Ibid., pp. 44-45).
Osgood's advice is biblical; Smalley's and Trent's advice is humanistic psychology. The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Paul that no one really hates himself (Ephesians 5:29). It is not selfhatred, but selflove, that leads to aberrant behavior. Who is right---the Holy Spirit, or Smalley and Trent (as well as myriad other "Christian psychologists)?
Within Promise Keepers we have found a preponderance of advocacy favoring self love over self denial, the latter of which is the biblical admonition. The dichotomy between Osgood's position on self love and the Smalley---Trent position is merely one indication of the eclectic approach Promise Keepers takes toward teaching. This eclecticism is found in other areas as well.
FEMINIZATION OF THE CHURCHES
On the subject of major problems with the churches today, we find an excellent statement from Robert Hicks regarding how the churches have become feminized:
I have seen too many good men leave the church, or church leadership, because they were tired of playing the games and they saw a lot of what the church was doing as a waste of time. We must recapture the church for men, defeminize it, and make our appeals to men where it will cost them something more than their money or their time. Christ wants their lives (Robert Hicks, Ibid., p. 155).
It's true that the churches have become feminized. Even many churches that stress male leadership have succumbed to the feminization process.
Most church ministries are geared toward women; churches may have as many as five or more women's ministries and nothing for men outside of a once-a-month prayer breakfast and an occasional retreat---much of the time for the latter being devoted to fun and games. Women's Bible studies abound both inside and outside the local body. Yet Scripture says that if a woman wants to learn anything she should ask her husband at home. Today, however, this biblical admonition is impractical for many couples. The reason is that the churches have let them down by withholding sound biblical teaching for the men, as well as proper discipleship. Consequently wives often know more (or think they know more) about the Bible than their husbands do. And not all they are receiving is biblical.
We must not lose sight of the dynamics within the modern church that have led to Promise Keeper's existence. It is the pathetic, feminized church that has created the conditions for such an organization to come into being. Unless men do take their rightful place, the churches will remain powerless, simply because the Lord does not bestow honor where the men are weak.
The problem of male weakness is not confined to the churches. In fact, it's because of the feminization of the churches that the nation as a whole has become feminized. Dr. Tony Evans, writing on "Spiritual Purity' for Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper says it well:
I am convinced that the primary cause of this national crisis is the feminization of the American male. When I say feminization, I am not talking about sexual preference. I'm trying to describe a misunderstanding of manhood that has produced a nation of sissified men who abdicate their role as spiritually pure leaders, thus forcing women to fill the vacuum (Tony Evans, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, op. cit., p. 73).
Evans suggests a radical but proper approach to men reclaiming their role of leadership where they've abdicated it to their wives:
I can hear you saying, I want to be a spiritually pure man. Where do I start? The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like this: Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I'm urging you to take it back. If you simply ask for it, your wife is likely to say, Look, for the last ten years, I've had to raise these kids, look after the house, and pay the bills. I've had to get a job and still keep up my duties at home. I've had to do my job and yours. You think I'm just going to turn everything back over to you? Your wife's concerns may be justified. Unfortunately, however, there can be no compromise here. If you're going to lead, you must lead. Be sensitive, Listen. Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead! Having said that, let me direct some carefully chosen words to you ladies who may be reading this: Give it back! For the sake of your family and the survival of our culture, let your man be a man if he's willing. Protect yourself if you must, by handing the reins back slowly; take it one step at a time. But if your husband tells you he wants to reclaim his role, let him! God never meant for you to bear the load you're carrying (Ibid., pp. 79-80)
Perhaps Evans could have advised the men to just start taking the lead without the preliminaries. But he is essentially correct in his position. Unfortunately, his sound advice is offset by not-so-sound advice from Gary Smalley. Writing in the same Promise Keeper's book, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, Smalley relates the story of his friends, Jim and Suzette Brawner, and how they dealt with their son Jason's unapproved actions. Smalley tells us that although both Jim and Suzette came from families with dysfunctional elements, they managed to raise three emotionally healthy children. This quote is rather lengthy, but it's necessary to understand Smalley's unbiblical mind set which permeates many of his writings:
Recently Jason came home for the first time from college. He was unusually nervous because, as a part of his initiation into the swim team, he had been coerced into wearing an earring. None of the men in his family had ever worn an earring, and it just wasn't done among their circle of friends. Jason felt the roof might come off when Mom and Dad saw him. Jason pulled into the driveway and found his mom. She was so excited to see him that she gave him a big hug before she noticed his ear and gasped. Then she laughed. What a great joke! she said. I assume it's one of those stickon kinds? No, Mom, this is the real thing Jason answered. I had my ear pierced. Everybody on the swim team has an earring and I was the only one who didn't, so I gave in. Suzette became nervous, not because she was upset with her son, but because she wondered how her husband would react when he got home. After taking Jasons laundry and getting him something to drink, she called two friends. Then, while Jim was still at work, she made a trip to the home of one of those friends and discussed how she should handle the situation. Both Jason and his mother were anxious as Jim arrived home. When he walked in the door, Jason said, Hi, Dad, I'm home for the weekend. Jim immediately hugged his son---on the side opposite the earring---then said, Well, how's college going? He hadn't noticed, and Jason just kept waiting for the explosion. Finally, Dad saw it. Hey-y-y, what's this?' he said. Jason thought, Oh, no! He's going to rip it off my ear. Suzette gently suggested, Now, don't overreact. But Jim didn't react at all. Calmly and sensitively, he asked, 'What's going on?' Jason answered, Dad everybody on the swim team has an earring. I knew you'd be upset, but Dad, I was the only guy who didn't have one. The seniors said either I do it or, you know, I'm in trouble. If you want to wear the earring that's your business, Jim answered. It's not up to me. Only God knows how much I love you. Personally, I wouldn't wear an earring. but hey, I understand the pressure you were getting. Suzette calmed down immediately. I thought you were going to be mad, she told Jim. No, we need to support our son, he said. Actually, I'd like to do something about it, but I don't think anything would help (Gary Smalley, Ibid., pp. 105-106).
Smalley lauds Jim for his "sensitive approach" to a potentially explosive problem. But what's really going on here? Is this how a godly father should act? Notice a few key elements to this story:
Jason knew his father would be upset. If so, why did Jason have his ears pierced and wear an earring? Jim evidently succeeded in raising "emotionally healthy children," but this example raises the question of whether they are parent honoring children. A child away from home has many opportunities to have his love and honor for his parents challenged. To Jason, being a member of the team was more important than honoring his father who should be his head. Had Jim raised him to be a biblically-oriented child, Jason would have stood his ground rather than succumb to the counsel of the ungodly, even if it cost him his spot on the swim team. At the least he would have called his father and sought his counsel.
Now, we all fail at times. This is not meant as an indictment of the Brawners. Rather, it is to point out Smalley's unbiblical mind set in offering such an example for male leadership. This is not a trivial matter, the earring is nothing in itself, but it became a symbol of Jason's failure. Additionally, rather than say, I don't think anything would help, a godly father would instruct his son on the need to remain faithful to God's Word (honor your father and mother) rather than acquiesce to ungodly peers. Jim need not have ripped the earring from Jason's ear, but a stern rebuke was certainly in order. With all their talk about being men of integrity, Promise Keepers allows teachings that lack integrity. One must question if they know the biblical meaning of integrity, or if they hold a definition tainted by worldly wisdom.
Suzette ran to her friends for advice on how to handle Jim. If this were a godly home instead of an emotionally healthy home, she would have instructed Jason to remove the earring rather than risk his father's displeasure. She would also have instructed Jason on honoring his parents according to the biblical mandate. And she would trust her husband and back him up no matter what his reaction to Jason's folly.
Jim's response, God only knows how much I love you, is a cop out for his own cowardice. His Smalley-oriented mind set does not allow him to correct his son in a biblical manner, but to accept his son's actions in spite of the sin behind them. Suppose Jason told him that initiation for the swim team required him to engage in homosexual acts. Would Jim's unconditional love be reflected in acceptance of Jason's decision to acquiesce?
Smalley tells us that Jason was 19 at the time which, according to society, would make him an adult. But he was still under his father's roof, so to speak, even though away at college. And even if he were on his own, the admonition to honor one's parents precludes doing anything that would offend them, It is the law of love that compels us to forego personal desires or expediency for the sake of others.
So again we have a dichotomy: Promise Keepers tells us to be men---to take the lead as men should. Some teachers, as we've seen, eschew the feminization of the churches. But other elements teach as God's truth lies that are based on a feminizing requirement for unconditional acceptance and sensitivity to unrepentant sinners. Dad is still the one to be feared for meting out righteous punishment, but mommy will intercede by throwing Gary Smalley's "sensitivity training" at him.
(For an in-depth analysis of Gary Smalley's and John Trent's philosophy on husband-wife relationships see our special report, Gary Smalley: The Psychology of Matriarchy.)
Yes, feminization of the Church has been a problem. And despite their call for rejecting this feminization, Promise Keepers' openness to certain teachings keeps that feminization firmly entrenched. Their answer to the problem of feminization will either fail, or will result in the exchange of that problem for other problems. For even if there were success in achieving full masculinity of the churches, there is no guarantee of that masculinity not posing as many problems (albeit of a different kind) as feminization carries. Male leadership in and of itself is insufficient for adherence to the biblical mandate that demands doctrinal purity and unity in the bond of love. Men who teach error within the Church lead it nowhere closer to obedience to the Lord than women who teach, whether truth or error. Both operate outside the biblical mandate. And the eclectic approach of Promise Keepers blurs the lines of distinction between truth and error.
VIEWS ON HOMOSEXUALITY
It may seem far-fetched to equate wearing an earring to engaging in homosexual acts. But the principle is the same. And it isn't so far-fetched in view of a Promise Keepers statement on homosexuality:
As to homosexuality, Promise Keepers shares the same historic and biblical stance taken by Evangelicals and Catholics---that sex is a good gift from God---to be enjoyed in the context of heterosexual marriage. Promise Keepers also recognizes that homosexuality is a complex and potentially polarizing issue. There is a great debate surrounding its environmental and genetic origins, yet as an organization we believe that homosexuals are men who need the same support, encouragement and healing we are offering to all men. While we have clear convictions regarding the issue of homosexuality, we are sensitive to and have compassion for the men who are struggling with these issues. We, therefore, support their being included and welcomed in all our events (Fax from Promise Keepers to Greg Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, Dec. 8, 1993).
So Promise Keepers, while acknowledging elsewhere that homosexuality is a sin, "shares the same historic and biblical stance taken by Evangelicals and Catholics. But it takes a worldly stance on homosexuality as "a complex and potentially polarizing issue." Thus, homosexuality must be understood within the context of humanistic psychology and genetic research.
And why the fear of "polarizing homosexuals? Scripture tells us that those who openly practice sin are to be removed (Polarized) from the church body. Is this so difficult to understand? In The Masculine Journey, written for Promise Keepers, the author, Robert Hicks, reinforces the soft-on-homosexuality attitude:
Some of my early Counselees' were individuals whom I once thought were logical contradictions. God brought to me Christians who were homosexuals and Marxists. I listened, tried to understand, debated back and forth, but was left with the conviction that they were sincere about both their faith in Christ and their views on sexuality and politics, though these views differed from mine. I have problems maintaining a view of sexuality or politics that is incompatible with clear biblical injunctions (against homosexual behavior) or clear biblical teaching on human nature (which is contrary to Marxism's 'new man). My last visit to the Air Force Chaplain School also broke down some longstanding categories. At the beginning of the school, a Catholic priest gave one of the most heartfelt testimonies about what God was doing in his life and how much he wanted our time at the school to be a time of reflection on God and our walk with Him. He concluded by saying, I want you to be born again here as I have been. Oh, don't get me wrong, I haven't become Catholic, or a Marxist, or gay. I don't condone Marxist politics or homosexual behavior. But I have learned that the way to look at God or the world is not necessarily through the lens or categories I currently believe are the correct ones. The labels dont matter all that much, whether they be Communist, Democrat, New Age, feminist, fundamentalist, or hookers---married-to-crossdressing code-pendents.
I think I now see the world and people differently because I try to look beyond the labels to the person, his unique situation, station, and needs. I fail often and get hooked back into my old warrior responses, but now I consciously recognize that pattern for what it is. I believe this is the way Jesus related to people, and His modeling provides me with a much richer and broader perspective on ministry (Robert Hicks, The Masculine Journey: Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood , Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing, 1993, pp. 133-34).
These statements represent the typical "sensitive' approach to sin that characterizes the churches at large today. Few leaders wish to stir the waters of controversy by taking a hard stand against sin---specially homosexuality. Hicks and others within Promise Keepers have fallen prey to their own human reasoning in the face of experiences. They are convinced that one may be an unrepentant homosexual and still be a Christian. They no longer look upon this particular sin in the light of Scripture, but in the darkness of their own rationalization. They met people who appear to hold a genuine faith in Christ, these people justify their sin in spite of Scripture's clear teaching; Hicks, et al., decide that, if God can accept them with His unconditional love," who are we to reject them? At the least, we must cease looking "at God or the world through the lens or categories [we] currently believe are the correct ones."
God's Word is not "current." It is eternal. The truths contained therein do not change with the world's acceptance or rejection of those truths. If one is looking at God or the world through the lens of experience or religious tradition (as Hicks says, though these views differed from mine [as opposed to differing from God's Word, which he should have said]) one may well change his viewpoint. But if one is looking at God or the world through the clear teaching of God's unchanging Word, one may not change his viewpoint without first rejecting God's Word. And labels are important. One cannot label himself (i.e., identify with) an antiChrist philosophy (e.g., communism, New Age, homosexuality) and still lay claim to biblical faith. A reason Hicks takes this compromising stand may be found in his belief that Jesus was tempted with homosexuality Himself:
I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men. But it was never recorded that Jesus had sexual relations with a woman. He may have thought about it as the movie The Last Temptation of Christ portrays, but even in this movie He did not give in to the temptation and remained true to His messianic course. If temptation means anything, it means Christ was tempted in every way as we are. That would mean not only heterosexual temptation but also homosexual temptation! I have found this insight to be very helpful for gay men struggling with their sexuality (Ibid., p. 181)
To digress for a moment, why does Hicks say, "it was never recorded that," rather than, "but Jesus never had sexual relations with a woman? Semantics? Not really. As a writer and psychologist Hicks knows how to state what he means. And Jesus did not eschew sin in order to remain true to his messianic course. He had no "course' except to do the will of His Father. He would have given up the "messianic course" were it the Father's will (Luke 22:42).
Also, to cite The Last Temptation of Christ as evidence that Jesus may have been tempted with lust for Mary Magdalene is as blasphemous as that movie itself was. It portrayed graphic sexual desire, not merely temptation. To be tempted is one thing; to fantasize about sin is another. It is sin within the heart.
Hicks' concept of a phallic Jesus is offered in the context of the various seasons of a man's life---one season being that during which his sexual energy is dominant. Coincidentally (?) Gnostics believe in a phallic Jehovah," the nature of whom we have no space to deal with here. We are not suggesting that Hicks is a Gnostic, although, like Gnostic writings, his book does smack of esoteric interpretations of Scripture.
On the matter of homosexuality, was Jesus tempted in every way (i.e., with every possible temptation)? If so, then He was tempted with stealing, with murder, with every gross sin and lesser sin imaginable to man. This would mean that his mind was constantly on temptation; He would have had to be tortured with temptation day and night for every possible sin to be accounted for. What about drinking blood? Was He tempted to do that? Or to dress in women's clothes? Or to have sex with animals? No. Reason tells us that the Scriptures mean that, just as we are tempted, He was also tempted. But there is no indication that Jesus was a latent homosexual as implied by Hicks. Of all the materials Promise Keepers has produced or that they recommend, several take the tolerant position on homosexuality. In view of the many other incongruities and dichotomies, one should expect at least one strong, purely biblical statement on this issue that is dealt with at length in several places.
While calling for strong male leadership in the churches, Promise Keepers has wimped out on an issue" (read sin") that strikes at the very heart of masculinity and presents an affront to God by its militant in-your-face challenge to accept sexual perversion or risk being called unloving." It is the same approach for which Gary Smalley lauds Jim Brawner in handling his own son's rebellion. Besides this and others of their own books, Promise Keepers recommends over scores of others, not all of which are biblically sound.
NEW AGE LEANINGS?
It's interesting, that Hicks would mention New Age in his rethinking scheme. Especially in view of some leading quotes to the chapters in his book. One quote, from the late U.N. Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold is pure New Age:
The longest journey Is the journey inwards Of him who has chosen his destiny (Ibid., p. 13).
As is this allusion to evolution from Charles Darwin:
Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin (Ibid., p. 31).
Does this mean we are accusing Promise Keepers of being New Age? No. It merely points out the lack of discernment the organization demonstrates in its choice of spokesmen.
A LOW VIEW OF SCRIPTURE
Incredibly, Hicks makes the following statement in his book:
The mature king, as well as the mature man, is one who rules his life with the wisdom of the Scriptures (Ibid., p. 141).
As valid as this sounds, however, the wisdom of the Scriptures" is not the issue. Freemasons believe in "the wisdom of the Scriptures." The issue is obedience to Scripture. The difference is that wisdom may be perceived as a trait to be acted upon if expedient for good. Obedience, regardless of expediency, is a requirement of God. It is based not on the wisdom of Scripture, but on the inerrancy of Scripture, which is the foundation of its wisdom. Yet, evidently Hicks doesn't even rule his judgments by the wisdom of Scripture. Is this so surprising given his belief that, based on the Psalms, David was a manic-depressive?
I call the Psalms of David the musings of a manic-depressive! David's psalms are either all praise or all depression. He is either singing joy to God or calling upon God to judge the wicked who oppress him! (Ibid., p. 114).
It appears as if Hicks doesn't believe that the Psalms were inspired by the Spirit of God. Or perhaps He felt he had to draw the line at calling God a manic-depressive. For all his psychological training, Hicks should understand that a so called manic-depressive is one who exhibits mood swings for no rational reason. David's praises were based upon his victories. His calling for God's judgment was based upon his righteous view of God's holiness as well as his desire for deliverance. In any case, the Holy Spirit used David's experiences in writing the psalms---experiences that God brought into David's life for perfecting him.
It is a low view of Scripture that seeks to paint any part of God's Word as the ravings of an unstable human mind. The same low view of Scripture prompts one to take a soft approach toward sin and heresy.
One movement within Promise Keepers that is gaining prominence among other ministries is that of mentoring. Promise Keepers is based on the belief that every man must have an older mentor to whom he can be held accountable for his decisions and actions in life.
Another word for mentoring would be discipling or shepherding.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, writing in Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, states that every man should have in his life not only an older mentor, but a spiritual peer as well as a younger man to whom he can be a mentor. I want to recommend a cord of three strands---a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. An older man building into your life, a soul brother to keep you accountable, and a younger man into whose life you can build (Howard Hendricks, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper , op. cit., p. 55).
This is really an ideal scenario. Close relationships at every level within the Body of Christ are important to one's own spiritual welfare.
E. Glenn Wagner offers yet another view of mentoring based on one anothering. Building on several passages of Scripture, Wagner encourages men to
love one another (John 13.34);
accept one another (Romans 15.7);
encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25);
forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32);
honor one another (Romans 12:10);
instruct one another (Romans 15:14);
serve one another (Galatians 5:13);
submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
(E. Glenn Wagner, Ibid., p. 60).
For the most part today, "one anothering in the churches is done on a superficial scale--- no one wanting to make themselves sufficiently vulnerable to correction from others, including their own pastors. This is another reason the churches are so weak today. Yet as much as Promise Keepers insists on the importance of male bonding and accountability to one another, the Promise Keepers manual on the subject is based more on the psychological model than on the scriptural model. The key word to relationships is "sensitivity." Judgment is to be avoided. On the subject of "one anothering," author Geoff Gorsuch, writing with Dan Schaffer in the Promise Keepers manual, Brothers! Calling Men into Vital Relationships, states:
The first job of mens small groups is to learn complete acceptance: no judgment, no I told you so or 'you should have known better.' No hidden agendas! I'm not out to change you and you're not out to change me (Geoff Gorsuch, with Dan Schaffer, Brothers! Calling Men Into Vital Relationships , Boulder, CO: Promise Keepers, 1993, p. 10).
If men are not seeking to be changed, why do they join Promise Keepers? And if the Holy Spirit does not use men to change one another, what's the purpose of Promise Keepers? In fact, what's the purpose of the Church? This is less than honest in view of Promise Keepers' stated purpose to change men into sensitive models of integrity. And how is a group to deal with sin in its midst? In all things Promise Keepers suggests the "positive approach:
In fact, there are over fifty commands relating to "one another in the New Testament.... All of these commands, however, can be summed up under three major headings: to accept, encourage and exhort "one another." The way these concepts build upon each other is the dynamic of brotherly love and the foundation of men's small groups in Promise Keepers (Ibid.).
Very good---except that they have neglected another important element in "one anothering." It's what some "sensitive" people would call "negative." The word is "rebuke." There can be no genuine ministry to those who hold to their sins or who reject instruction from God's Word without the element of rebuke. Jesus even instructs us to rebuke those who offend us in the hope that they will be led to repentance. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:3-4).
But is rebuke really loving? Or is it merely an expression of self-righteousness? If one's motive is to lead a brother to repentance it is indeed loving. It is, in fact, typical of God's love for His own. The purpose of rebuke is not to establish oneself as "holier than thou. It is to bring into focus a brother's ungodly behavior for his own spiritual benefit. It is to lead to repentance. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev 3:19).
And what about "judgment"? These Promise Keepers are careful to list Romans 14:13 as reason not to judge. But Romans 14:13 has to do with not judging a brother for what he eats or doesn't eat, or for the days he regards as more important than other days. It does not negate righteous judgment that is necessary for maintaining the purity of the church or for leading others to repentance.
See Judge Not ... One of the four most dangerous mistakes any Christian can make
Righteous judgment is based upon the dear teachings of God's Word. We cannot escape having to pass judgment on what we see and hear in the [churches]. The Lord commended the church at Ephesus for judging false teachers: I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them whichsay they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars (Rev 2:2).
We are not to judge others on the basis of religious tradition or personal preferences. Unfortunately, there is more of the latter type of judgment than the former type found in the churches today. As well, there is a strong element of judgment against those outside the Body of Christ. This is contrary to God's Word that admonishes us to judge not those outside the Church, but inside:
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (I Corinthians 5:12-13).
Let God judge even homosexuals who lay no claim to faith in Jesus Christ. But we must judge those who justify their homosexuality---or any sin---while claiming to be members of Christ's Body. This, Promise Keepers fails to do.
One thing that Promise Keepers stresses is strong male leadership in the churches. But it seems as if the problem isn't female leadership as much as it is lack of male leadership. In other words, women are leading more than men; it's better if men lead as much as women an equality of leadership, as one pastor writing for Promise Keepers puts it.
... The church, over a period of years, became one of the largest in the denomination I served. Because of the men? No! Because we had a balance of leadership in the church. It was the way God intended the church to operate. Now we had the best of both worlds---male and female leaders sharing the burden for their families and their community. Every church must have that equality of leadership (H.B. London, Jr., Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper , op. cit., p. 142).
What Promise Keepers seems to express, in the long run, is not so much a desire for men to take absolute leadership, but to begin to share in the leadership held by women. Were they to take the biblical position as stated by Paul, they would not be as popular as they are. Why? Because they would not receive the unbridled endorsement of wives that they do receive. Many women say they want a strong man to follow, but not too strong. Certainly they do not want a man whose strength and determination for God may interfere with his wife's "needs" being met. Promise Keepers somehow recognizes this. Thus the macho posturing while being careful not to offend the ladies who really remain in control. Thus, too, the popularity of Gary Smalley and his ilk who emasculate me while claiming great success in a achieving marital harmony.
Women love Smalley because he focuses men's attention not on how to please God, but how to please their wives. His seminars are very popular among nonbelievers for the same reason. His infomercials on television are geared not to believers but to the general public. His courses do not utilize Scripture as the basis as much as psychological theory. And what woman wouldn't be thrilled with a husband who becomes more attuned to her feminine attitudes, as Smalley proposes?
They may think their husbands are now more compatible with them, but they don't realize that they've lost their manhood in the process. I'm not speaking of violent men who abuse their wives. These need biblical correction. But the average guy who just tries to provide for his family and receive some respect from his wife is generally denigrated as a non-feeling brute who can't get in touch with his feminine side. So Smalley will show him how. As one of the leading spokespersons within Promise Keepers, Gary Smalley is also one of the most dangerous to true masculinity. Women who read Smalley's books tend to look upon their husbands as less than adequate---men who don't meet their needs. They are never told that their husband was not made for them, but they were made for their husband (I Corinthians 11:9). It is the woman who is to meet the needs of her husband. The husband is to love and protect his wife, giving her what is good for her. This doesn't mean he should be insensitive; it means he is to be loving and caring. That is not insensitive (the psychological model); it is godly (the biblical model).
Leadership in Promise Keepers small groups reflects the feminization process. It is based not on gifting by the Holy Spirit as much as it is based upon human skills. Likening growth in small groups to a baseball diamond---moving from home to first base, to second base, etc.---Geoff Gorsuch states:
As we move toward second, therefore, we should expect some adjustments as we rub up against each others expectations for the group. To ensure that this friction is properly handled, we'll need skills in two areas: discussion and conflict resolution.
The key to good discussion is to introduce relevant material, subjects that men feel they need to discuss. Also, we need to lead it in such a way that the men feel free to express what's really on their minds. Our research indicates that men are interested in discussing the following issues:
1. What is true manliness?
2. What is success? The real "bottom line" of life? Excellence?
3. How do we deal with guilt feelings!
4. What is male sexuality? Is purity possible for the modern man?
5. How can we nurture family life?
6. What is Christian leadership? How is it developed?
7. What are the basic disciplines of the Christian man?
8. What ministry skills need to be developed? How?
9. What is biblical business conduct?
10. What is integrity? How is it developed?
This is just a partial list of what is on the minds of men today. If the men are not yet comfortable with the Bible, we can recommend many books, such as The Man in the Mirror by Pat Morely, which offer Christian insight into some of the above issues and are designed to be used in men's small groups (Geoff Gorsuch, with Dan Schaffer, Brothers! Calling Men Into Vital Relationships , op. cit., p. 28).
Why not just be led by the Holy Spirit? This is all so complicated, based not on leadership by Spirit-led, biblically literate elders, but by any Joe who thinks he wants to start a men's fellowship using Promise Keepers materials. And are we talking about joining with believers or nonbelievers? What true believer is "not yet comfortable with the Bible? God's Word should have been used to lead him to Christ in the first place. The question of whether we are dealing with believers or nonbelievers is never really resolved. The nebulous approach to "group discussions" allows for equal consideration for all points of view, remember, we are not to judge or to be confrontive. This is a perfect recipe for spiritual disaster and a weakening of resolve against error finding its way into the church body. Essential truth extends beyond the basic tenets of the faith to all of what Scripture dearly states.
To establish the premise that sensitivity is paramount in handling difficult situations, Promise Keepers deals dishonestly with Scripture. In attempting to instruct on how to handle a brother who offends us, Matthew 18:15-20 is selectively quoted:
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.... For, where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Ibid., p. 35).
What's missing here? Only four important verses. Let's fill them in, using the King James Bible, instead of the New International Version that Gorsuch uses:
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 18:16-19).
Why were these verses omitted? Based on the "sensitivity" requirement of Promise Keepers, they had to be omitted. It just wouldn't do to suggest that difficult conflicts must be dealt with in difficult ways. God's Word reveals another reason for rebuke: Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear (I Timothy 5:20).
Fear of reprisal keeps the congregation purified. Readiness to rebuke demonstrates concern for others, based on the idea that they will avoid sin rather than face exposure. The "sensitivity" approach goes beyond proper concern for others and wise handling of sin in the midst of the group. It would be unthinkable to remind the Church of how Paul rebuked Peter to his face for his hypocrisy. The Church has become sanitized through the inroads of human psychological theory that eschews conflict in favor of "unity." By all means, let us have unity and cooperation where we are all in accordance with God's Word. But otherwise there must be conflict, there must be confrontation, there must even be anger, though without sin.
Additionally, there must be a willingness to put the unrepentant sinner out of the church: Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (I Corinthians 5:13). While excommunication is really the function of the eldership within the local body, there is still a precedent for individual believers not to fellowship with those who call themselves brethren yet continue in unrepentant sin:
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (I Corinthians 5:9-13)
What Promise Keepers proposes is to welcome all who say they are of Christ into fellowship, and not to judge them. They are not accountable to the fellowship as much as they are accountable to their mentor.
I'm sure that Promise Keepers would deny this. One of their agendas is to make men responsible within their congregations. But this is not the function of a para-church organization; it is the function of the local body itself. In the process of establishing its male---bonding program, however, Promise Keepers leads astray into teachings that are psychology-based rather than based on sound biblical teaching. The psychological approach is not the biblical approach. It avoids conflict at all costs. For example, Gorsuch advises that we stay away from accusatory remarks:
Focus on "I" statements, not "You" statements. Each one of us must own our feelings and take responsibility for them. Normally, when we're upset, we accuse the other person with "you" statements such as, "You put me down!" However, if we say, I may be too sensitive but, when that happened, I felt put down, this does not accuse the person or his character; but it does help him reflect upon his behavior in a specific, positive way (Ibid., pp. 33-34).
Dare we follow the biblical rule and rebuke him, even kindly? No. Yet rebuke need not be harsh unless harshness is called for. One may rebuke another with kind words if that is appropriate. But sometimes a kind attitude is not appropriate. An honest heart will receive rebuke even if given in less than polite terms. This calls for leading by God's Spirit, not psychological ploys. As much as Promise Keepers touts the importance of God's Word, much of its advice is contrary to God's Word. Some advice even substitutes the importance of conflict resolution over the necessity to defend the integrity of the Word of God regardless of how "unloving" the defender of truth may be. Gorsuch errs in the following:
Focus on understanding, not winning. The goal of any conflict is greater understanding (Ibid., p. 34).
No, the goal of any conflict for the believer is to bring the combatants into conformity to God's Word. There should be no conflict except in those areas where God's Word is pitted against human understanding and reason. Certain psychological terms consistently crop up throughout Promise Keepers literature: "dysfunctional", "sensitivity", "unconscious", "listening skills", "meaningful relationships", and many others. We are not nitpicking by pointing this out. Some of these terms may be valid in the proper context, but the consistent use demonstrates a mind set heavily influenced by secular psychology's inroads into the Church via Christian" psychologizers. Gary Smalley, John Trent, James Dobson, Robert Hicks, and many others are in the forefront of Promise Keepers speakers and writers. Their seduction by psychology has tainted their understanding of God's Word and even of the person of Jesus Himself. This, if nothing else, should raise red flags of caution for anyone who may feel attracted to Promise Keepers.
To understand Promise Keepers' reason for ignoring the difficult aspects of God's Word in these areas of conflict, one must understand how Promise Keepers perceives Jesus' view of men:
Jesus didn't view men as losers. He saw them as lost (Ibid., p. 49).
That's a clever cliche, but it's not true. The Scriptures view men as both losers and lost. What is a loser but one who cannot gain victory over life's trials? And what man can gain that victory without the grace of God? More important than gaining victory over life's trials (which may be accomplished to some extent even by unregenerate men), no one can gain the victory over death and the grave without the benefit of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection. In terms of man-to-man relationships, some men are winners and some are losers. In terms of man-to-God relationship, all men are losers. Our victory is in the finished work of Jesus, not in ourselves. Many Scriptures tell us about the depravity of man's heart. Jesus would not even trust Himself to men because he knew their hearts:
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of Him: for he knew what was in man ( John 2:24-25).
It's precisely because Promise Keepers has succumbed to human wisdom that it has adopted the no conflict stance. It's a feel good approach to the issues of life, but it isn't biblical. It reshapes Jesus into the image desired by men who shrink from judgment---nice guy who went around trying to "meet needs. Gorsuch paints such a picture of Jesus:
. . . Jesus always asked those who came to Him what he could do for them (Ibid., p. 63).
This is patently false. Yes, He did ask blind Bartimaeus what He wanted. And Scripture probably doesn't record some instances where He asked others what He could do for them. But He did not "always ask those who came to Him what he could do for them. [Also See The Inclusiveness of Jesus] This is more than hyperbole; it is consistent with the entire tenor of the Promise Keepers manual which paints Jesus as nonconfrontive---the model for Promise Keepers men. Bob Beltz's description of Jesus adds to the error.
. . . Jesus Christ is challenging and exciting! He was and is the most attractive and winsome personality in all of human history (Bob Beltz, Daily Disciplines for the Christian Man, op. cit., p. 99).
Such a statement projects a stereotype of the godly man as one who is hip. Personality rather than one who is committed to holiness at all costs, even the cost of his life and reputation.
Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're white. Do you love Jesus; are you born of the Spirit of God?
Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're black. Do you love Jesus; are you born of the Spirit of God?
Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're brown. Do you love Jesus; are you born of the Spirit of God?
Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're Pentecostal. Do you love Jesus; are you born of the Spirit of God?
Hear Me: Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're Catholic, Do you love Jesus; are you born of the Spirit of God?
(Bill McCartney, Promise Keepers 94 Seize the Moment Mens Conference, Portland, Oregon, June 18, 1994).
No one can argue that there should be no division within the Body of Christ. It is important, however, that we look at the overall agenda connected with such a statement. To do so, we should first consider the issue of race as a hindrance to unity; we will then consider the issue of denominationalism.
Certainly the color of one's skin should not be a hindrance to unity. Promise Keepers is correct in its assessment that racial boundaries still exist within the churches. And they are at least partially correct in stating that those boundaries are the result of racism within the churches. There's no doubt that racism exists within the churches, because they are replete with nominal "Christians" who impose their worldly values upon the congregations to which they've attached themselves. These are the spots in our feasts that Peter and Jude speak of (II Peter 2:13; Jude 1:12)---the false brethren who bring reproach against the name of Jesus Christ.
Promise Keepers may be commended for the desire to bring true believers of all races together. However, separation is not exclusively racist. True believers, regardless of their color, are not racists. There are other factors that contribute to separation. These are economic, cultural and logistic. Right or wrong, the fact remains that neighborhoods more often than not are established along racial and cultural lines. Churches within those neighborhoods are automatically going to reflect those neighborhoods' overall racial and cultural structure. People in general---Christians and non-Christian---choose to live within their racial and cultural backgrounds. While racism in society has contributed to neighborhood demographics, it is not the only factor. Nor should it be implied that racism is the reason that black Christians worship in black neighborhoods, white Christians worship in white neighborhoods, and Asian Christians worship in Asian neighborhoods (within the Asian community the diversity is further broken down according to country of origin).
Nor should we assume that racism is a white thing---it's a human thing. It is found among blacks, Hispanics and Asians, as well as among Semitic peoples. Racism is normal to the fallen human condition, but it is not normal to the Holy Spirit-regenerated heart. True disciples of Jesus recognize the inherent evil that lurks within all hearts. We, of all people, should be objective in the matter of racial equality and inequality. Yet we should not embrace a man because he is of the same or a different race, but because he is of the same Spirit. Unity based on racial quotas is not unity in the Spirit any more than unity based on denominational quotas. So Promise Keepers is on the right track by taking an active approach to overcoming the barriers of separation, whether by racism or by demographics. To embrace brethren of different races honors Galatians 3:26-29:
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
It is dear that the Lord's heart is toward dropping distinctions of ethnicity when it comes to unity in the Spirit in the bonds of love. On this point we must agree with Promise Keepers.
If the Lord desires unity without regard to racial distinctions, what about denominational distinctions? After all, isn't denominationalism a man-created thing? Yet some denominations have grown out of the desire to create a fellowship based on a more biblical doctrine. In fact, for centuries denominationalism guarded against the central authoritarian apostasy of Romanism from which it sprang. With few exceptions, within virtually all the denominations that call themselves Christian there are true believers in the Lord. Their denominational ties may have resulted in their being stunted in their spiritual growth or understanding of God's Word, but their faith is genuine. And it must be admitted that some denominations have historically, at least for a time, held the Word of God In higher regard than others. The goal of Promise Keepers, as stated, is to unite all who love Jesus and are born of the Spirit of God, regardless of denomination. Because this concerns Roman Catholicism it was the major issue with which we dealt in our interview with Randy Phillips:
Al Dager: On the issue of Catholicism, does Promise Keepers have a policy on how to interact with Roman Catholics?
Randy Phillips: What we do care about is do you love Jesus, and are you born again by the Spirit of God? And so if you have been born again by the Spirit of God, then whatever the labels are should not divide us. So from that standpoint, all men are welcome, and certainly are, whether you're Baptist, Pentecostal or Roman Catholic. If you are in the Body of Christ, then you should certainly be welcome.
AD: Considering the exclusionary policy of the Roman Catholic Church, and its doctrines relative to Transubstantiation, the mass and so forth, is there anything Promise Keepers would say as to how their members should interact with Roman Catholics? Would they be allowed to challenge on those issues, to try to bring enlightenment, or to try to lead them out of the Roman Catholic Church?
RP: I think you're dealing with a whole area that is not our expertise or calling. I think there are those in the theological community that are dealing with those issues from both camps. Even now a lot of those issues are being talked about and debated, prayed about---sources of hope and sources of division.
AD: The reason I asked is that there are non-Catholic Christians who would consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a cult, or to be not really a Christian denomination in the true sense of the word, based upon some of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, much as they would Mormonism. How would Promise Keepers overcome that barrier between those brothers and the Roman Catholics that might be involved?
RP: Based upon the [Promise Keepers] statement of faith, based upon what the purpose of Promise Keepers is---it's a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to uniting men to vital relationships to become godly influences in their world---I would ask them, are those seven promises to commitment to Christ, to one another, to integrity, to the family to the church, to reconciliation, to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, you know, that's what unites us---that's our focus.
AD: So you would neither encourage nor discourage brothers .
RP: I would encourage all men to come together---any men.
AD: Regardless of doctrine?
RP: Absolutely. You know, at our conferences, no matter who the men are, if they don't know Jesus they're encouraged to come because they're going to hear a clear, biblical message of salvation. No matter who they are. So all men are welcome at our conferences no matter what their background or political affiliation.
AD: I'm not talking about the conferences, I'm talking more about involvement in Promise Keepers men's groups---the more intimate areas of mentoring---those things.
RP: What they choose to do in their local communities is their choice, and so we're not mandating relationships or mandating theological issues beyond the clear biblical foundations we stand on.
AD: So you're saying they would have the individual choice whether they want to confront somebody they believe holds an erroneous doctrine?
RP: That would be true. I think, and certainly in any area I think there's probably 28,000 different things that we could think of in a day that we could disagree on. But our focus is on what we do agree on, concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through Him and Him alone can we have eternal life, to the commitment to the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures as the only source of true revelation and knowing God's plan, and the function of the Church. I think our commitment is based upon those things. Outside of that, to get into specifics would only put me in an arena that I'm not called for or called to, nor equipped to.
I believe Randy Phillips was being very straightforward on this issue. We cannot argue that anyone, no matter what their background, should not be invited to public meetings which begin with an invitation to know Christ. The weakness seems to lie more in Promise Keepers' official hands-off policy. While Promise Keepers does not overtly endorse Catholicism, they fall short in not addressing those doctrinal issues that essentially nullify the doctrines upon which unity for Promise Keepers is based. (See our special report, Six Roman Catholic Doctrines That Nullify Salvation By Grace.) This, coupled with their admonition not to judge or confront per their manual for men's groups, leaves those who wish to minister the truth to Catholics, without a leg to stand on within the Promise Keepers format. By not taking a stand on doctrinal issues, Promise Keepers overlooks the doctrinal differences not so much among non-Catholic denominations but between these and Roman Catholicism.
There are few barriers to be broken down between non-Catholic denominations. The barrier that really exists is between true believers in these denominations and the Roman Catholic Church. But there is good reason for this. Recognizing that individual Roman Catholics can be saved, there is still a problem with the institution itself, which holds doctrines that, if properly understood, negate the full atoning efficacy of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Most Roman Catholics are not fully aware of the implications of their church's teachings. Many have a genuine love for Jesus to the degree that their church has allowed them to know any truth. In other words, Roman Catholicism has kept its people enslaved to its hierarchical authority while doing all it can to keep them ignorant of the full freedom in Christ that is theirs.
True believers in Christ will not attempt to lead Roman Catholics into their own denominations, but will attempt to lead them to Christ so they can enjoy the freedom that is theirs. Ultimately this leads to separation from Roman Catholicism. And that, the Roman Catholic Church has vowed to stop through its ecumenical outreach. The climate among Christians today is one of desiring reconciliation with Roman Catholics.
But there can be no reconciliation with devout Roman Catholics without reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Why? Because Catholics are even forbidden to take communion with non-Catholics. To do so is considered a mortal sin punishable by eternal damnation.
Additionally, Roman Catholicism does not recognize their members' relationship with the Lord apart from Mother Church. This is the reason for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Priests stand in the gap between worshipers and their god. The people cannot approach God for atonement from their sins without the intercession of the priest (except for rare circumstances that involve imminent death). I'm not talking about how renegade Catholics---even priests---may view their personal relationship with Christ. I'm talking about the Roman Catholic Church's position. Why else are ex-Catholics considered condemned unless they renew their loyalty to the pope's authority?
Ecumenically-oriented groups betray their ex-Catholic brethren by acceptance of Roman Catholics without taking a strong stand against the Roman Catholic Church. This Promise Keepers does by 1) refusing to encourage the leading of Catholics from the darkness of their religious system into the light of liberty in Christ, 2) implying in its literature that priests are valid representatives of God's people:
One of the core values of Promise Keepers is honoring the pastors and priests of our local congregations (Geoff Gorsuch with Dan Schaffer, Brothers! Calling Men Into Vital Relationships , op. cit., p. 50).
There is no validity to any priesthood apart from the priesthood of all believers. To acknowledge the priesthood of Rome is to denigrate the priesthood of Christ and to acknowledge the validity of man standing in the place of Christ as a priest to God's people. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5).
For any organization to honor the validity of the Roman Catholic priesthood plays into the Vatican's hands and leaves truth seekers from breaking free of religious tyranny. But McCartney goes even beyond recognition of the Roman Catholic priesthood as valid. At the Promise Keepers convention in Portland, while calling for the pastors to come forward for prayer, he indicated that he doesn't believe the "laity' can rightly divide the Word of Truth. Speaking to the pastors he said
We cannot rightly divide the word of truth. We need you to teach us (Bill McCartney, Promise Keepers 94 Seize the Moment Mens Conference , op. cit.)
Such an ecclesiastical mind set establishes even non-Catholic ministers as priests over the people, even though it is contrary to God's Word
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (I John 2:27).
Perhaps McCartney hasn't fully escaped his Roman Catholic upbringing. His statement likewise places the pastor in the role of special revelator of God's truth. As a member of John Wimber's Vineyard movement, he has evidently been influenced by that denomination's teachings on special revelation. In fact there is a strong Vineyard influence among Promise Keepers leadership. It was founded by Bill McCartney in association with his pastor, James Ryle, of the Boulder Valley, Colorado, Vineyard. Randy Phillips, also a former Roman Catholic and a member of the Boulder Valley Vineyard, became president of Promise Keepers at the behest of McCartney and Ryle. (For an analysis of the Vineyard movement and its aberrant doctrines and practices, see our special report, Latter-Day Prophets, and the book, Wonders and The Word, [Kindred Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba].)
It's significant to note, by the way, that when McCartney made his statements about Promise Keepers not caring what color or denomination one is, there was no applause until he said, "Hear me: Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're Catholic."
At this, many applauded vigorously---a reflection of the degree to which the ecumenists have succeeded in convincing a significant number of Christians to accept a "hands off" policy toward leading Roman Catholics into greater truth.
It's true that today many Roman Catholics do not believe in many of their church's doctrines. But these are generally non-devout Catholics, Catholics with no faith, or Catholics who have newly begun to understand what true faith in Christ really means. To allow them to remain in their deception dishonors God's Word and negates any claim to belief in the total sufficiency of Christ's shed blood to atone for sin.
According to Randy Phillips, Promise Keepers chooses not to get involved in ecumenical debates. Their purpose is to bring men together in mutual concern and respect for one another. They are free within the context of their small groups to minister to one another regarding the doctrines of their churches, if they so choose. Yet it seems impossible to address false doctrine without conflict. But within the framework of small group disciplines outlined by Promise Keepers there is to be no conflict. This leaves those who insist on purity of doctrine among those with whom they fellowship at risk of exclusion.
An important aspect of the Promise Keepers movement is the cementing of relationships between men. This is accomplished through covenanting partnerships. Promise Keepers insists that every man must be accountable to some other man for every area of his life, most specifically his finances, his sexual life and his relationship with God. The covenant partner is to be given the freedom to inquire into any of these areas at will, with the understanding that he may bring correction to those areas he feels are not in proper alignment.
In the context of covenant relationships, a man willingly grants other men the right to inquire about his relationship to God, his commitment to his family, his sexuality, and his financial dealings. Together they form a team that is committed to advance God's kingdom (Promise Keepers Work Book, Seize the Moment Mens Conference, Portland, Oregon, June 18, 1994).
This form of covenanting is not found in Scripture. On the contrary, the taking of oaths, which covenanting is, is forbidden for several reasons:
1) one doesn't know if he will be able to fulfill his covenant;
2) one cannot change many things he may covenant to change;
3) one may find himself bound to someone (or some condition) from whom he may later wish to be freed;
4) one may find God's will to be different from what he originally perceived it to be when he made the covenant.
Yet to break a covenant is to sin. No less is it a sin to enter into a covenant without being willing to suffer adversely should fulfillment of that covenant require it. Exceptions would be those covenants expressly allowed or commanded in Scripture (e.g., marriage vows, business relationships, etc.). Most especially, one should never make a vow to God. At the most we should say, If the Lord wills, we will do such and such (James 4:13-15). We may even say, "if the Lord allows us, or grants us the grace. Without such provision, the making of oaths is foolishness at best, and can lead to spiritual disaster.
Yet it is not uncommon at Promise Keepers conventions for the speakers to request the men to take oaths. One example is that which I witnessed at the Portland convention. Dr. Charles Cooper, speaking of the necessity to study Scripture, called upon the men to stand, lift their hands and repeat, "I will not forget to study the Bible". It's one thing to instill the importance of Bible study, it's another thing to put men under oaths they may fail to keep. Many oaths are entered into under emotional stances. And Promise Keepers conventions, by their nature, engender emotional responses. There is an additional problem with the Promise Keepers methodology. Covenants are encouraged without regard to the spiritual maturity of the person to whom one may covenant himself. To even enter into such covenants demonstrates spiritual immaturity. But that aside, to make oneself accountable to a peer rather than to a proven elder saint of God may result in one's being led astray.
Accountability is to be to those in authority within the local body. This isn't to say that one cannot make oneself accountable to a brother who may belong to another fellowship. But, ideally, even that accountability should be with the approval of his elders. Promise Keepers does encourage pastoral input. Still, the biblical model for accountability is to teach the Word of God within the local body and for the eldership of that body to hold the flock accountable to the Word. Nowhere does Scripture give any man or church body authority over areas that it does not specifically delineate.
The church is not to bring any teachings into the body apart from Scripture. Nor is it to hold anyone accountable to anything except Scripture. The problem today is that church authorities are holding men accountable to men's teachings, sometimes more than they are holding them accountable to God's Word. Most pastors and elders do not understand this basic fact of spiritual authority. Unless something drastic occurs within their fellowship they pretty much allow things to proceed without their oversight. Thus, many will normally sound, biblically-based fellowships receive their spiritual sustenance from others whose doctrines may be radically different from those of the fellowship itself. An example is the degree to which many, even within so-called "fundamentalist churches, are influenced by the Christian media. The Trinity Broadcasting Network, among others, presents many differing winds of doctrine---some patently heretical.
Because of lax oversight or refusal to address these doctrinal errors, the eldership of many churches leave their congregation at the mercy of wolves in sheep's clothing. It is the same lax attitude toward what appears to be a move of God---whether the experiences claimed on Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Vineyard movement, charismatism, or Promise Keepers---that polarizes the eldership from any attempts at bringing correction. Often, it may be found, this is due to the fact that many elders are not qualified to be elders, lacking discernment of the issues that affect today's Church.
LOOKING AT RESULTS
Lacking discernment, many pastors and elders base their judgments on perceived "results," rather than by testing by God's Word. They fear that any criticism may be fighting against what God may be doing beyond their understanding.
A simple rule to avoid this problem is to know God's Word sufficiently so that error will be easily recognized as such regardless of the outward manifestations of "holiness, "spiritual power, or positive results.
Things are not always as they seem. Why did Jesus and the writers of Scripture warn us of false prophets, false apostles and false brethren if there were no danger of our mistaking them for the real thing?
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works (II Corinthians 11:13-15)
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7.22-23).
Jesus warned us that the deception in the last days would be so great that, if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). Every believer must try the spirits, whether they be of God or not (I John 4:1). This may well include trying the teachings of their own pastors and elders. While this is a valid and important aspect of one's personal growth in Christ, it cannot be accomplished lightly or without fully understanding scriptural truth
What about the results reported by Promise Keepers of increased determination on the part of men to take the lead at home and at church, not to mention reports of lives changed from bad to good. These results are not in themselves evidence that Promise Keepers is the answer, or that it is even of God. Sun Myung Moon presents much evidence of changed lives among his followers, as do the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses---even as did Jim Jones.
The evidence of God at work is not outward results, but conformity to Scripture, which in turn results in outward change. Outward change without conformity to Scripture is merely human righteousness. Change of mind does not always equate to change of heart. A genuine change of heart results in the holding of all Scripture in high esteem. Nor does it distinguish between so called "essential doctrine" and secondary doctrine. (See Section The Christian and Knowledge]
But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II Timothy 3:1417).
When the Holy Spirit says that all Scripture is given for instruction in righteousness, He isn't speaking only of the so-called Big Five doctrines the ecumenists are claiming as reason for unity. He means all of Scripture itself is the essential doctrine of the Faith. This is not to denigrate the experiences of those who have made a change. No doubt the Lord has used Promise Keepers to effect some change in some men's lives. But the end does not justify the means. The proper focus must be on the means itself, as well as on the end. This is why Scripture warns us of Satan's ministers being ministers of righteousness. They preach holiness; they effect changed lives; they produce "results." But their underlying philosophy, or perhaps even a small amount of their teachings, is unbiblical and, therefore, ungodly. While leading in the general direction of God's narrow path, they miss the strait way by a small margin, but sufficient enough to lead into error.
Results are not the final arbiter of truth; one's pious demeanor is not the final arbiter of truth; one's ability to call fire down from heaven is not the final arbiter of truth. God's Word is the only and final arbiter of truth.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WAY
There is a strong emphasis on psychological theory in much of Promise Keepers' materials. For a good analysis of the psychological teachings found in Robert Hick's book, The Masculine Journey: Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood (written for Promise Keepers), I recommend Promise Keepers and Psycho-Heresy by Martin and Deidre Bobgan. (You may receive this booklet by writing to Media Spotlight.) Besides Hicks' book, psychological theory that is in direct opposition to biblical truth is found in the writings of James Dobson, Gary Smalley, John Trent, Bob Beltz, and others. (Promise Keepers has issued a seven-page statement in defense of Hicks, et al, that may be obtained by writing to them at P.O. Box 18376, Boulder, CO 80308. The Bobgan's rebuttal to that statement is included in their report on Hicks' book.) The small sampling that follows in no wise covers the full degree to which the problem of integration with psychology exists in Promise Keepers.
In the Promise Keepers book, Daily Guidelines for the Christian Man, Dr. Bob Beltz champions the 12 steps program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Like AA, Beltz calls alcoholism a disease. Relating the story of Mitch, Beltz says: His name is really not important because His profile fits multitudes of men in our world today. Mitch is an alcoholic. He has a disease. It is killing him. Ironically, Mitch has taken two major steps toward recovery from alcoholism. Several years ago he overcame the hurdle of denial and named his disease (Bob Beltz, Daily Disciplines for the Christian Man: Practical Steps to an Empowered Spiritual Life , Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1993, p. 9). Beltz relates how Mitch has not improved by attending AA. But his lack of improvement is based on his failure to work the program. In other words, AA would work for Mitch if Mitch would work the program. He then praises AA for its successes
For several years I have been intrigued by the phenomenon of Alcoholics Anonymous. Without any paid staff, building, advertising budgets, management consultants, or efficiency experts, AA has become one of the most successful movements in the world.... (Ibid., p. 11-12).
AA has not been as successful as they would have us believe. The rate of failure is greater than is the rate of success. Any psychology-based program will experience a modicum of success. But the greatest failure in AA is not in the rate of recidivism, but in leading men to false gods---God as you perceive him to be. Yes, some have taken the first step to God through AA, but that is not to AA's credit, it is to God's credit. In spite of the ungodly elements within the 12 steps program of AA, Beltz says, "Every principle of the twelve step program is biblical" (Ibid., p. 12)
In summary, we find that Promise Keepers has much to offer in the way of inspiration for men to become more active in their leadership role. Yet what may be heard at a Promise Keepers convention will not give the entire picture.
The real problem lies in Promise Keepers' concerted efforts to bring their program into the local body. Much within their teaching materials is not biblically sound, and is heavily psychologized. The motivation toward integrity is good. But the Boy Scouts also motivate their members toward integrity. Many non-believers have more integrity than many professing Christians. Although true faith encompasses personal integrity, personal integrity in itself is not the mark of true faith. Righteousness apart from true faith is filthy rags to God. The only way Promise Keepers can validate their teachings on integrity is for everything they do to be doctrinally pure. We have seen that, although many teachings within Promise Keepers are doctrinally sound, numerous unbiblical elements compromise the overall doctrinal integrity of the organization.
Concerning the matter of changed lives, as we stated earlier, changed lives are not in themselves evidence of God's work. Many cults report changed lives as evidence that they have the truth. The only genuine measure of any person's or group's integrity with God is strict adherence to the purity of His Word. Promise Keepers' acceptance of anything called "Christian---unless it is perceived as unloving---neutralizes the effects of those changed lives.
I can testify that my life was changed as a result of Tony and Susan Alamo's ministry in Southern California years ago. It was only years later that I learned how perverse and cultic the organization had become. But no one can tell me that there were no changed lives. And the zeal within those meetings far exceeded that of any Promise Keepers meetings, including their conventions, albeit on a smaller scale.
Finally, I'd like to offer a brief analysis of the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper. Words speak loudly to those who do not delve deeply. But actions and results drown them out. The words of the promises are ideal. The implementation by Promise Keepers falls short of that ideal.
Promise 1: A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God's word.
What is obedience to God's Word but maintaining purity of doctrine? Promise Keepers offers an eclectic mix of truth and error by utilizing the teachings of men, some of whom are biblical, others of whom are unbiblical. One cannot be obedient to God's Word and base his judgments on psychological mumbo-jumbo. This does not honor Jesus Christ. Nor is the power of the Holy Spirit present in an admixture of truth and error.
Promise 2: A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.
The covenantal nature of implementing this promise requires oaths that are unbiblical. The practices border on unscriptural forms of shepherding. Accountability must be to the eldership within the local body, not just to someone to whom we choose to make ourselves accountable. The accountability extends into areas that are highly personal---and extra-biblical.
Promise 3: A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
Spiritual purity is not possible without the sola scriptura approach to teaching, although moral, ethical and sexual purity are possible through human effort. Promise Keepers scores high on the last three, but fails on the first and most important. Just as the Law is summed up in the two Great Commandments, the latter three forms of purity are summed up in the first. Without the first, they are merely human righteousness, found in any morally-oriented cult.
Promise 4: A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and biblical values.
To build a strong family on biblical values would require rejecting much of Promise Keepers' teachings on families offered through Gary Smalley and others who eschew the biblical model for the psychological model. Promise Keepers may promote emotionally healthy" families but most of their advice is not geared toward promoting biblically sound families.
Promise 5: A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving his time and resources.
Here Promise Keepers fails by suggesting that only the pastor can rightly divide the word of truth. In fact, the single pastor authoritarian model is evident throughout Promise Keepers literature. The biblical model which calls for a plurality of elders to oversee the church body, is not addressed. Often, one's giving of resources is at the behest of the pastor rather than at the behest of the Holy Spirit.
Promise 6: A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.
Promise Keepers is making every effort to live up to this promise. And there is little fault with this promise except for its ecumenical stance. The strong inroads that Roman Catholicism has made in neutralizing many leaders within the Christian community is reflected in the Promise Keepers' ecumenical position. Several teachers utilized by Promise Keepers have taken a strong stance toward unity with the Vatican. Cause enough to be concerned.
Promise 7: A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Although Promise Keepers officially takes no position on the dominionist agenda, some teachers for Promise Keepers lean toward a dominionist position. The assumption that the Great Commission means "winning the world for Christ" is prevalent. The dominion theology behind such statements escapes all but the well-informed on the subject. (See Al Dager's book, Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion.) The Great Commission means that we are to be witnesses for Christ throughout the world, making disciples of whosoever will" come to Him.
There is no doubt that many men hunger for greater responsibility and commitment in their home and in their church. Most men want to be men of integrity; most want to be able to properly lead their wives and children; most men want to be accountable to someone for their own spiritual benefit, most men want to take a role of leadership within their fellowship. Certainly if not most men, many men desire these things. But is Promise Keepers the best way to accomplish them?
The answer is no, for the many reasons we've stated above. Promise Keepers leads in the general direction of biblical truth; but they miss the mark on far too many points to be considered trustworthy. Therefore, those churches that do get involved with Promise Keepers should exercise extreme caution. But better yet, rather than rely on Promise Keepers at all, the churches should take it upon themselves autonomously to concentrate on consistent, in-depth Bible study and discipleship for the men, so that they can teach their wives and children. The elder women should teach the younger women how to be keepers of their homes and how to be obedient to their husbands in everything (Titus 2:1-5; Ephesians 5:22-24). Just be sure that all that is done is biblical and not merely Bible oriented.
Copyright 1994, Media Spotlight
P.O. Box 290, Redmord, WA 98073-0290.
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