The Promise Keepers Movement is Dangerous — Watch Out For It!
By M. H. Reynolds, Editor, Foundation magazine, Foundation, Vol. XVI, Issue 1
A new men's movement called Promise Keepers is sweeping our nation like a wildfire. Is it of God, or man? Will it solve the problems of those who have embraced its principles and teachings, or will it compound those problems? Can a Biblical answer be given to those important questions now, or is it best to withhold judgment until a later time? Obviously, some very conflicting views already exist as to the basis, programs, benefits and goals of the Promise Keepers movement. This report is based upon the actual words of its leaders made in public meetings, contained in press releases, or printed in books, magazines and articles which have either been published or endorsed by leaders of the Promise Keepers movement. It is obvious that this movement is superbly organized and has tremendous financial resources at its disposal. The way it has caught on since its formation in 1990, and its ambitious plans for expansion in the future, require our immediate response and warning.
Most pastors and other individuals have so far heard only good reports about it. Even though some have questions and a feeling of uneasiness concerning it, they have had little or no opportunity to examine it carefully. While it is true that most if not all of the major evangelical and charismatic leaders are praising, supporting and participating in Promise Keepers, that, in itself is no guarantee that its principles, practices and goals are in accord with the Scriptures. Having personally read every word of the book, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, as well as all the latest press releases and many of their other articles, we have come to the inescapable conclusion that this movement represents another massive effort of Satan to mix truth and error in some very deceptive ways.
Therefore, we do not hesitate to give the strongest possible warning now concerning the dangers of the Promise Keepers movement. Our reasons will be clearly stated and properly documented from original sources so that God's people may be able to see for themselves how this new movement is mixing truth and error. If for no other reason, the Promise Keepers movement is dangerous because it promotes an unscriptural agenda of forging a religious unity which is absolutely forbidden in God's Word (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Eph. 5:11). Its founder and several of its leaders are part of the charismatic movement which is a major catalyst in the effort to bring about fellowship and eventual union with the Roman Catholic Church; whereas, in truth, the Roman Catholic Church is a false church, preaches a false gospel and is not a part of the body of Christ.
Throughout the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has been an enemy of all true believers and the blood of hundreds of thousands of martyrs is upon its hands. However, for the past few decades, the Roman Catholic Church has changed its outward appearance and approaches. It has a new face of tolerance and a kindlier public image but the damnable heresies it proclaims remain as dangerous as ever. Furthermore, those who are only familiar with Roman Catholicism, as practiced in this country, would not believe the raw heathenism which is part of their worship in countries where they have been in control for centuries.
It should be of great concern to every believer to know that the Promise Keepers movement is taught and led by men who blindly praise the Pope and are giving Roman Catholicism an undeserved and unwarranted vote of confidence and even appreciation instead of sounding the warnings God's Word commands.
The Promise Keepers movement and its leaders totally reject the many plain commands of Scripture to separate from and warn about false teachers, disobedient brethren and the world. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14,15; 1 John 2:15-17. As a result, those whom they seek to "disciple" are deprived of the warnings God's Word says are necessary to preserve the purity of the Gospel and the purity of the church. Instead of obeying the command of God's Word to "preach no other doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:3); and by refusing to heed the warning God gives in Galatians 1:6-10 concerning all who preach "any other Gospel," they have become "blind leaders of the blind" about which Jesus Christ warned (Matt. 15:10-14). Since the inevitable result of such spiritual blindness is that "both shall fall into the ditch," the strongest warning must be given.
Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper is the title of a book published in 1994 by "Focus on the Family," Colorado Springs, CO., and distributed in the USA and Canada by "Word Books," Dallas, TX. It is key to the understanding of what Promise Keepers is trying to do. Contributing authors are: Bill Bright, Edwin Cole, Dr. James Dobson, Tony Evans, Bill McCartney, Luis Palau, Randy Phillips, Gary Smalley, Jack Hayford, Wellington Boone, Howard Hendricks, E. Glenn Wagner, Gary Oliver, Dale Schlafer, H. B. London, Jr., Philip Porter, and Gordon England. This 210-page book was edited by Al Janssen and Larry K. Weeden.
"Seven solid promises that will change a man's life forever" -- This bold claim, printed on the back jacket of this book, only serves to heighten the need for an immediate, Scriptural analysis of the Promise Keepers movement; for, indeed, these seven promises are not solidly based upon the sure foundation of God's Word alone, but upon a mixture of God's Word with the suppositions of men.
What Are The Seven Promises?
Promise one -- 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 two -- 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 three -- a man and his integrity: A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
Promise four -- a man and his family: A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and Biblical values.
Promise five -- a man and his church: A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of the church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving of his time and resources.
Promise six -- 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 seven -- a man and his world: A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (see Mark 12:30,31) and the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19, 20).
At first glance, it is not difficult to understand why most Christians might feel that the Promise Keepers movement is greatly needed and should be encouraged and supported. Without question there is a great need today for Godly men who will assume their responsibilities in the home, in the church and in the world. However, a careful examination of the programs and goals as set forth by its leaders in public and in print, and by comparing these with the Scriptures, it becomes clear that discerning believers must raise serious questions now concerning this rapidly growing men's movement.
The emphasis upon self-effort within the Promise Keepers program supplants absolute dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Only God can unfailingly keep a promise. Therefore those in the movement will face disillusionment and disappointment because of their failure to look to God and His promises alone.
Before giving an analysis of the Promise Keepers movement in the light of the Scriptures, we trust it will be helpful to mention several basic issues which should not be disregarded nor treated lightly.
Dangers of the Promise Keepers:
- Advocacy of an unscriptural religious unity at the expense of sound doctrine and practice.
- Acceptance and promotion of unscriptural Charismatic teachings.
- Approval and use of psychological approaches and techniques.
- Use and promotion of corrupted modern versions of the Bible.
- Twisting, misapplying, and misinterpreting key Scriptures.
- A program stressing the importance of evangelism while ignoring the need of a pure gospel.
- A subtle and very harmful influence upon local churches which have heretofore resisted unscriptural programs and fellowships.
Are the promises demanded of the Promise Keepers Scriptural? A careful review of their Seven Promises clearly reveals that a mixture of truth and error is involved. For instance:
Promise One -- 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.
(Analysis): Technically, and if these words are understood in their scriptural and historical meaning, any true believer -- man or woman -- would gladly support such a statement. However, we live in days when wonderful words like these are being abused and misused.
For example, in the first chapter of the book, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, Charismatic leader Dr. Jack Hayford sets forth some precious truths concerning the different aspects of worship as set forth in the Scriptures. However, when he writes about "Redeeming Worship" on page 19, he teaches serious error. Hayford writes: "Redeeming worship centers on the Lord's Table. Whether your tradition celebrates it as Communion, Eucharist, the Mass, or the Lord's Supper, we are all called to this centerpiece of Christian worship."
Is there any difference between the Eucharist and the Mass (celebrated by Roman Catholics and Orthodox), and the Lord's Table, Lord's Supper and Communion observed by true believers? Of course there is! Historically the mass has been recognized by Bible believers as blatant blasphemy. Yet, today, Hayford, like other Charismatic leaders, is teaching Promise Keepers and others that this false view of Christian worship is approved by God and proper for all Christians to accept. Promise One has the right words but the wrong application. Many other examples could be cited of errors concerning prayer and the ministry of the Holy Spirit which are believed and taught by Charismatic leaders. We have to ask, "How could anyone possibly promise to obey God's Word and in the same breath disobey that Word?" It is this inconsistency and incongruity that makes Promise Keepers a deceptive movement.
Promise Two -- 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.
(Analysis): How very dangerous is this false premise which is based upon psychological theories rather than on Biblical principles. Of course Godly men can be of help to others and be helped by others. But to encourage the false notion that a godly man cannot make it on his own in these tumultuous times without depending upon other Promise Keepers to help keep him "on the right track" is another trick of Satan to belittle the power of God and negate His "... great and precious promises" (2 Pet. 1:3, 4).
God's Word repeatedly warns about the danger of putting trust in men. Isaiah 2:22, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Jeremiah 17:5, "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." By contrast, note Jeremiah 17:7, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." God's Word clearly commands us to "... have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). God specifically warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Those who disregard God's warnings are surely headed for a fall.
Promise Three -- A man and his integrity: A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
(Analysis): Once again, here is a statement that all Christians should desire to see fulfilled in their lives, not just the men but women also. But if the men have to depend on their brothers to attain these goals, what about the women? Will a women's Promise Keepers movement also become a necessity and be established as the newest women's movement on the scene?
In fact, however, the spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity needed by every believer is not to be found in making boastful promises nor in dependence upon other believers but can only be obtained by heeding the Word of God which says, "Whereby are given unto us [all of us!] exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). It is the promises of God that are all-important and they assure divine power to accomplish His purpose of godliness in an ungodly day, not the promises of even the finest, most sincere men who attempt to formulate what they believe is needed to change men and then the world.
Promise Four -- A man and his family: A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and Biblical values.
(Analysis): Here is another promise which is certainly desirable as stated. However, the question which must be asked and answered concerns just what are these "Biblical values?" A careful study of Promise Keepers literature reveals that their programs are based upon some Biblical values given by God, but are also mixed with some very dangerous psychological principles and practices which rest upon the theories of men. This unsound material will continue to flow into churches long after the initial excitement of the program wanes.
Promise Five -- A man and his church: A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of the church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving of his time and resources.
(Analysis): Whether such a promise is scriptural or unscriptural depends entirely upon which church is involved. Is it a church which proclaims a false gospel (such as the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and liberal Protestant churches)? Is it a church which is disobedient to God's Word by its fellowship with false teachers and those who "love the world"? (1 John 2:15-17). If so, to "support the mission of such a church, honoring and praying for its pastor, and actively giving of his time and resources" is helping to build the one-world harlot church of the antichrist. Promise Keepers ignore the plain commands of God's Word concerning separation from those who teach error, and fail to "reprove" such (Eph. 5:11). As a result, the men in the Promise Keepers movement are totally unprepared to stand against all the "wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).
Promise Six -- 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.
(Analysis): This required promise once again mixes truth and error and provides another example of how the word "Biblical" is misused. While reaching beyond racial barriers is Scriptural, reaching beyond denominational barriers as Promise Keepers are doing amounts to open defiance of God's plain commands. It is not "Biblical unity" which Promise Keepers think they are demonstrating, but an unbiblical unity which will bring God's eventual judgment. 2 Peter 2:1-3.
Should anyone doubt the fact that the Promise Keepers movement seeks an unbiblical unity, just read the words of its founder, Coach Bill McCartney, as found on pages 160, 161 of Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper: "Now, I don't mean to suggest that all cultural differences and denominational distinctives are going to disappear. But what I know is that Almighty God wants to bring Christian men together regardless of their ethnic origin, denominational background, or style of worship. There's only one criterion for this kind of unity: to love Jesus and be born of the Spirit of God. Can we look one another in the eye -- black, white, red, brown, yellow, Baptist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Catholic [emphasis ours], and so on -- and get together on this common ground: 'We believe in salvation through Christ alone, and we have made Him the Lord of our lives'? Is that not the central, unifying reality of our existence? And if it is, can we not focus on that and call each other brothers instead of always emphasizing our differences? Men, we have to get together on this!"
In this statement, McCartney's contradictory words should be noted concerning the necessity of believing in salvation through Christ alone -- and then including Roman Catholics as "brothers" in spite of the fact that they do not believe in salvation through Christ alone, adding sacraments and good works as requirements for salvation.
Promise Seven -- A man and his world: A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (see Mark 12:30, 31) and the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19, 20).
(Analysis): The Great Commandment referred to in Mark 12:30, 31 records the words of Jesus Christ in which love to God and love to one's neighbor are commanded. However, Promise Keepers presents a faulty understanding of genuine Christian love in which reconciliation with a disobedient brother is insisted upon, whereas, in truth, separation from disobedient brethren is commanded by God (2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15). In these days of increasing compromise, Satan has succeeded in blinding the eyes of many believers to the fact that separation from disobedient brethren is not only for the preservation of a pure church, but is also for the disobedient brother's spiritual welfare. Promise Keepers' mistaken premise that genuine Christian love necessitates fellowship with, rather than separation from disobedient brethren, will do untold harm to all concerned.
The Great Commission referred to in Matthew 28:19, 20 involves not only the preaching of the Gospel, but also teaching those who believe "... to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Giving the impression that it does not matter what church is attended or what doctrinal creed is embraced by any true believer is foolish -- it does matter to God and a warning against error must be given. The apostle Paul, one of the greatest evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and teachers of all time, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 20:17-32, reminded the Ephesian elders that he had not shunned to declare "all the counsel of God" (v. 27), warning "every one night and day with tears" for three years (v. 3l). What were these warnings about? The grievous wolves (false teachers) who would enter in, "not sparing the flock" (v. 29), and those from within the church who would arise, "speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (v. 30). Separation from, not reconciliation with such false teachers, is God's way of preserving the purity and power of the church.
Much of the strong appeal of the movement is based upon humanistic psychological principles and techniques. Many of its leaders, however, have become very proficient in using such dangerous theories even while claiming to repudiate humanistic psychology. In another of Satan's "dangerous mixture" deceptions, the term "Christian Psychologist" has mesmerized its proponents into believing that it is possible to take the "good things" from humanistic psychology and combine these with Biblical teachings. The result supposedly provides answers to problems Christians are experiencing which can be found in no other way. As a result, Dr. James Dobson, who is one of the Promise Keepers leaders, and other well-known "Christian Psychologists" such as Gary Smalley, John Trent, and Robert Hicks are leading many astray.
We fully concur with the statement of Martin and Deidre Bobgan on page 29 of their 41-page booklet, "Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy." We quote: "If men are to come together as men, they would do well to follow what the Bible says rather than Freudian fables, Jungian myths, and other self-serving, man-made psychologies. And they would do well to gather together in the place where they are meant to grow -- in the local church -- not in huge rallies with "mob psychology" or in groups using encounter group techniques and undermining important doctrinal distinctives." For a comprehensive and Biblical analysis of the highly-questionable book, The Masculine Journey -- Understanding The Six Stages of Manhood, which has been given massive distribution to Promise Keepers, write to PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93112. A second book, AGAINST Biblical Counseling: FOR the BIBLE (200 pages) will also be very helpful to all those who want the facts concerning the dangers of "Christian" Psychology.
Our own publication, "The House That Freud Built," will provide valuable information concerning the dangers of "sensitivity training" and "small group" psychological techniques as devised for those who claim to be evangelical believers. This 40-page booklet gives the history of how "sensitivity training" was introduced into evangelical churches. Originally printed in the September/October 1994 issue of Foundation, this reprint will be an eye opener to all who want to know the truth.
What does Promise Keepers say about its history and future plans? The following information is quoted in full from the Fact Sheet which was part of the official press packet prepared in January 1995:
How we started: On March 20, 1990 University of Colorado Head Football Coach Bill McCartney and his friend Dave Wardell, PhD were on a three-hour car ride to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting in Pueblo, CO, when the idea of filling a stadium with Christian men first came up. Later in 1990, seventy-two men began to pray and fast about the concept of thousands of men coming together for the purpose of Christian discipleship.
Yearly attendance figures as given in this Fact Sheet testify to its small beginning and rapid growth.
1991 -- 4,200 men met at the Univ. of Colorado Events Center; 1992 -- 22,000 men met at CU's Folsom Stadium; 1993 -- 50,000 filled Folsom Stadium to capacity; 1994 -- Seven sites nationwide totaling 278,600 men. 1995 Plans: Promise Keepers has scheduled 13 conferences across the United States from April through October 1995. Sites include Pontiac, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Boise, ID; Washington D. C.; Houston, TX; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Atlanta, GA; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis, MN; St. Petersburg. FL; Oakland, CA.; and Irving, TX. Total attendance for these 13 conferences is projected to be between 500,000 and 600,000. [BDM Editor's Note -- 10/96: 1995's stadium rallies attracted 727,000 men. PK scheduled 22 rallies in 1996, with an expected attendance of 1.5 million. They plan 50 conferences in 50 states by the year 2000.]
Why "For men only": The conferences are designed for specific men's issues in the context of an all-male setting. We have discovered that men are more apt to hear and receive the full instruction of the sessions when they are not inhibited by concern for a woman's responses. One of the primary goals of the conference is to deepen the commitment of men to respect and honor women.
(Analysis): Yes, Promise Keepers is a rapidly growing movement. In addition to the plans for 1995, we understand that tentative plans for 1996 include bringing together 75,000 clergy for a Conference as well as a huge rally in Washington, D.C. with the goal of one million men in attendance. In Promise Keepers literature, repeated references are made to the supposition, "There is strength in numbers." But where is such a false idea supported in Scripture? God usually had to reduce the numerics of Israel's armies so they would not become proud and take glory unto themselves for victories won -- glory which belonged to God. Read the record of Gideon in Judges 7:1-22 as a prime example. Of course, in our day, the great majority of professing Christians are willing to compromise Biblical principles, mistakenly assuming that size is all-important to God as it is to men. That is a grievous error. Fidelity to the Truth is of utmost importance.
Speakers at Promise Keepers "Raise the Standard" conferences include: Ron Blue, Wellington Boone, Bill Bright, Dave Bryant, Ken Canfield, Tom Claus, Ed Cole, Chuck Colson, Rod Cooper, Daniel DeLeon, Tony Evans, Steve Farrar, Joseph Garlington, Bill Glass, Franklin Graham, Jack Hayford, Howard Hendricks, E. V. Hill, Bill Hybels, T. D. Jakes, Jeffrey Johnson, Billy Kim, Greg Laurie, Crawford Loritts, John Maxwell, Bill McCartney, Bob Moorhead, Gary Oliver, Juan Carlos Ortiz, Luis Palau, John Perkins, Randy Phillips, Dennis Rainey, Raul Ries, James Ryle, Gary Smalley, Joe Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, John Trent, E. Glenn Wagner, Stu Weber, John Wesley-White, Al Whittinghill, Bruce Wilkinson, and Ravi Zacharias.
(Analysis): Without doubt these speakers are very capable teachers who are able to give forceful presentations of what they teach. The question to be raised however, concerns whether or not they will be giving these huge crowds of men the whole counsel of God or a modified, altered, misleading presentation of essential Scriptural truths. Since the ministry of these teachers runs the gamut from compromising new-evangelicalism and charismatic error, to ecumenical liberalism, it is clear that they will be introducing the Promise Keepers to unscriptural doctrines and fellowships. This is a very serious matter.
Promise Keepers officers and major staff members are obviously very capable communicators and seasoned motivators -- their combined talents provide an amazing base for publicity and continued support. An article by Stephen R. McLauchlin in the January/February, 1995 issue of Religious Broadcasters magazine reports that the free 90-second daily "Promise Keepers Men in Action" spot announcements are already being carried on approximately 400 stations. This article encourages stations to publicize Promise Keepers by "giving coverage to the conferences, signing up to air "Men in Action," and covering local stories that highlight grass roots experiences of the movement."
Campus Crusade for Christ is also involved in the movement. In the "Alumni Relations" newsletter of January, 1995 the following article was included which describes the purpose of "Strategic Alliance," the title they have given to the Promise Keepers/Campus Crusade organizational link: "Strategic Alliance -- Have you attended Promise Keepers and want to receive further training? 'M.A.N. to Man' seminars are part of a Strategic Alliance between Campus Crusade for Christ and Promise Keepers to help men 1) personalize issues that concern men; 2) provide basic leadership training; and 3) give information on small-group Bible studies especially for men."
Campus Crusade has a long history of increasing compromise. It adopted at its inception the policy of totally rejecting Biblical separation; infiltration rather than separation has always been CCC's stated strategy. As a result of adopting this unbiblical course, CCC has increased its compromise. Liberal, Roman Catholic and Charismatic delusion are now firmly lodged within this incredibly influential organization. Their support will give Promise Keepers a tremendous boost.
Consider also The National Religious Broadcasters which now numbers some 800 broadcasters, representing a wide array of diverse theological positions. The NRB is an official arm of the National Association of Evangelicals which, since its founding in 1942, has represented a position of compromise between Biblical Fundamentalism and Ecumenism. Fifty years ago, the NAE recognized Roman Catholicism as a false religious system, but it has now become one of the major forces which, while admitting that there are some differences, is now advocating cooperation with Roman Catholics as though it could now be considered a part of the body of Christ. It is obvious that such a position is held by the majority of professing believers today, but that makes it all the more important for all who stand for the Bible and against all compromise to warn all who will listen.
Promise Keepers is being welcomed by Roman Catholic leaders in Southern California. According to the official publication of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic archdiocese, The Tidings, March 31, 1995 edition, Promise Keepers is now considered a viable ministry for Catholics. The Tidings reported that at the urging of Cardinal Roger Mahony, Christian Van Liefde, Roman Catholic priest and pastor of St. Hillary Church in Pico Rivera, "has studied the feasibility and appropriateness of utilizing Promise Keepers at the Catholic parish level." Van Liefde, while noting "the evangelical roots of the program," was quoted as stating that "there is no doctrinal issue which should cause concern to the Catholic Church." Van Liefde was further quoted as saying, "Promise Keepers places a very strong emphasis on returning to your own church congregation or parish and becoming an active layman." Van Liefde also mentioned the fact that one of the promises of Promise Keepers is his commitment to "give generously of their time, treasure and talent to their local church." Roman Catholic leaders are quick to observe how Promise Keepers can be used to build a false church which preaches a false gospel.
The pressure to follow the crowd and silence the voice of scriptural reproof is growing. In closing this article, however, we would point out that any pastor and church wanting to stand against such compromise will have to take a stand now against the Promise Keepers teachings. Many who have already joined this group are now bent on recruiting new members with fully as much zeal and pressure as sports-minded college alumni men seek to recruit top athletes for sports programs.
We see this recruiting zeal of those who become involved in the movement to be one of its greatest hazards. Why? Because there will be many faithful pastors who have in the past taken a stand against all ecumenical endeavors and movements which would introduce doctrinal error and the devilish spirit of new-evangelicalism into their congregations, but who now are pressured into buying into the Promise Keepers program.
How could a pastor say "No, we cannot ..." to men returning from a Promise Keepers conference who promise the pastor they will support him, work with him, and pray for him as never before? How can he deal with these undoubtedly well-meaning, yet misled, men within his own church who are now exerting pressure upon him to fall into line with the program? Imagine the faithful pastor's dilemma! Up until now he could herald a warning against Romanism, liberalism, ecumenism, charismatic delusion and the like without reservation. But now he has men within his own flock who are introducing the people to all of the above and more under the attractive packaging -- Promise Keepers!
Fundamental, Bible-believing pastor, you must take a stand against this or you will be taken down by it. The machinery is coming into place for this movement to have a continuing influence on its Promise Keepers for years to come. Should you be forced into the program now, dear brother, you will be battling its impact for the duration.
A closing word about those who say, "Why not just emphasize the good things in Promise Keepers?" Such an argument sounds reasonable until you consider the very serious doctrinal errors involved. When a deadly poison is discovered in a popular medicine, no one insists on emphasizing the good ingredients; every one insists on identifying and warning about the poison. When meat or other food is found to be contaminated, the concern is not about the beneficial substances involved, but rather the giving of strong warnings as to the nature, source, and elimination of the contamination. Spiritual poison and contamination (error) are even more dangerous since they affect the eternal welfare of individuals and the reward or loss of reward for believers (1 Cor. 3:9-15; 2 Jn. 8; Rev. 3:8-11).
As far as naming names is concerned, this also is frowned upon by most believers today. Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ (who is the very personification of love) issued some of the strongest warnings and rebukes ever given to the false teachers of His day. Read Matthew chapter 23 and pay careful attention to the words our Saviour used concerning the Scribes and Pharisees. Notice His instruction to "call no man father" upon earth (v. 9), and also the particular words He used forbidding repetitious prayer (Matt. 6:7). Both of these are disobeyed by Roman Catholics. And, mark well the warning of Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." And, what about Peter, one of the three disciples who were closest to Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry? Was Christ's rebuke of Peter before the other disciples unnecessary and unloving (Matt. 16:21-23)? And, look carefully at the experience of Peter who learned the hard way about the disaster of claiming to be a promise keeper in his own strength (Mark 14:26-42).
Furthermore, the apostle Paul, one of the greatest Bible teachers, pastors, evangelists and missionaries of his day spent three years warning the Ephesian elders about the wolves (false teachers) who would enter into the flock from without; and a similar warning about those who would arise from within the church who would desire to "draw away disciples after themselves" (please read Acts 20:17-32). Likewise both Paul and the other apostles, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not hesitate to mention names. Notice how often they rebuked by name those who were disobedient to the Word of God. 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 4:10, 14; 3 John 9. We must follow their example and obey God rather than to trust the promises of any man.
Promise Keepers is dangerous, but please do not forget that these words of warning are an effort to "speak the truth in love," praying always that God will help those affected to see this.
Fundamental Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 6278, Los Osos, CA 93412
God's Simple Plan