Case Study - The Promise Keepers
Eight years ago, I wrote a Special Report on the Promise Keepers. After reading Al Dagger’s excellent articles, and Martin and Diedra Bobgan’s pamphlet on the Promise Keepers (authors of the Psychoheresy books), I was alarmed by what I read. I then ordered and read everything I could find - all of the books then put out by the Promise Keepers. We mailed this report out to a mailing list of about 4,000 names just prior to a big PK rally in Northern California in October of 1995. I passed on the information above to the pastor’s of the church I was attending back in April of that year and they took no action. However, once our Report hit their membership, the reaction was swift. The flock was told to trust the shepherds, that they would take care of them and that the leadership saw nothing wrong with the Promise Keepers, and to go to the rally with peace of mind. We were soundly denounced from the pulpit.
Three years later, I asked the pastor if they were ready to take a position on the Promise Keepers and he said, “No, we are still studying it and have come to no conclusions.” In the past three years, there have been hundreds of articles and even a book denouncing the practices and positions of the Promise Keepers. When will they have enough information? The problem is, by opening the door in the beginning, because pastors were afraid of splitting or alienating important segments of the church, they compromised and allowed the insidious process to begin to take place within. The basic problem is that even well meaning, evangelical leaders don’t dare take a stand against a trendy movement such as the Promise Keepers, lest they lose support (including financial support) and appear to be a “nay sayer.” By definition, they can’t take a controversial position. By definition they settle for a watered down position that may eventually lead them into full-blown apostasy.
The goals of Promise Keepers appear to be admirable. The rallies are uplifting and no doubt, some find the Lord or rededicate their lives to Him. So what is wrong with men banding together to help one another? The Promise Keepers is a men's movement that began sweeping the country in 1991 with 4,200 men at the Coors' Event Center in Boulder Colorado and culminated in October, 1997 with a million man march on Washington (which I attended). It called for integrity in every area of life. There is no doubt about the excitement of a Promise Keepers Convention where tens of thousands of men are urged to take leadership in their families, their churches and community.
As we have said before, if we are living in the last days, one would expect to see the development of the Apostate Church and a great deception. “ Apostasy “and “apostate” means “falling away." Our adversary is an "angel of light." Satan would not attempt to subvert the church with something obviously evil. We would only be drawn away by something that appears to be good. We just slowly drift away from God and his truth until one day, we find we have fallen away. That is the process of Apostasy. There is no effort required to stop gravity - you just do nothing and fall away. However, effort is required to stop the slide. First, you have to recognize you are slipping and then you have to stop it and climb back up.
In his book, Promise Keepers: Another Trojan Horse, Phil Arms writes, “the fundamental flaw with Promise Keepers is not as much in its stated goals as in the organization’s man-centered, will-driven and illegitimate approach to the entire Christian faith...Not since the days of the Inquisition has the true Church faced such a challenge to its authority, its doctrine or its mission as in this hour of great deception emanating from so many seemingly dynamic, legitimate groups and “Christian” spokespersons. This is an historic period when multitudes of prophecies are coming to fruition. Primarily and specifically as it relates to our topic, the religious revival that is attempting to consolidate all men of faith and faiths of all men into one gigantic army of God to “take this world for Jesus and His Church” is clearly not only Orwellian in its character, but biblical in its prophetic placement on God’s timetable...a movement that treats the Word of God with flippant irreverence and mindless disregard...But to some believers the clarity of the overwhelming and deep-rooted conflict between the Promise Keeper’s state positions and the written Word of God is so stark that these godly discerning few are traumatized with spiritual shock over the casual acquiescence and cooperation of so many high-profile Christian leaders involved in this slaughter of biblical truths.” (Phil Arms, Promise Keepers: Another Trojan Horse, Shiloh Publishers, Houston, pp. 50-51, 70)
Promise Keepers Origins
So where does Promise Keepers come from? In the 70’s, Bill McCartney, founder of the Promise Keepers, was the assistant football coach at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. This also happens to be where the Word of God movement was founded by Ralph Martin and Steve Clark (both Catholics) in the late 60’s. By the early 70’s, it had spread all over the world. This was the beginning of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement in the U.S. (originally begun by Juan Carlos Ortiz in Argentina), which was later enhanced by the Fort Lauderdale Five. New disciples would be assigned a shepherd they were to be accountable to. There were to keep a complete diary of everything they did 24 hours a day and submit the diary to their shepherd for evaluation. Everything came under the shepherd’s scrutiny who may then tell the disciple how to adjust his life - everything from what he watches on TV, to entertainment, to dating, job, finances or sex. Nothing was exempt! This is the same type of accountability we now see in the Promise Keepers
In 1975, the Word of God movement leaders had their first meeting with the Pope, going over the heads of U.S. bishops. The movement was 60 to 70 percent Catholic, as was coach McCartney, Ralph Martin and Steve Clark. In 1975, they organized men’s shepherding conferences and in 1977, 40,000 men attended a conference at a stadium in Kansas City.
When Bill McCartney was offered a job as the head coach for the University of Colorado football team, he was sent by the Ann Arbor Word of God community as their representative. It wasn’t long before McCartney convinced Vineyard pastor James Ryle to begin the men’s movement - Promise Keepers. It began in 1990 with 87 men attending a conference in Boulder.
Promise Keepers got off to a huge start because of support from three major ministries: Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade for Christ (with a long ecumenical history) and the Navigators who are headquartered in Colorado Springs and became the publisher for PK material. There was corporate support from the de Voss family of Amway (a Michigan Company that is politically active in the “religious right”) and Tony Monahan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, who still has his roots in the Word of God movement and the Roman Catholic Church, the Coor’s Heritage Foundation, etc. Michael Timis and Jack Hayford are both on the PK Board of Directors and have their roots in the Word of God movement. How else could a movement go from 87 to over a million in just seven years with out tremendous backing?
It should be noted that there are two large “extra-Church” movements, organizing at the “grass roots” level within as many churches as possible: the one is Promise Keepers where the rally is the attraction but the real business is done in the Accountability Groups in local churches that are headed by “Point Men” report up through the PK hierarchy (not the church’s) and are under absolute authority. The other is James Dobson’s Community Impact Project headed by John Eldridge who is organizing PACs (Political Action Committees) in churches across the land. By 1995, there were a 1000 Community Impact Committees in churches of Michigan alone.
The Promise Keepers - An Ecumenical Movement
One of the goals of the Promise Keepers is to unite all who love Jesus and are born of the Spirit of God, regardless of denomination or background. They are non-committal on doctrine. Everyone who names the name of Jesus is welcome, including in particular Catholics and Mormons. The President of Promise Keepers, Randy Phillips was interviewed by Al Dagger (Media Spotlight Special Report - Promise Keepers, Is what you see what you get?, 1995). He affirmed that Promise Keepers does not want to divide. He encourages men to come together regardless of doctrine. According to Randy Phillips, Promise Keepers does not take a stand on doctrinal issues. In the P.K. workbooks and manuals, men are admonished not to judge or confront. They will not allow attendees to proselytize or encourage Catholics to leave their Church. They even endorse Catholic priests: "One of the core values of Promise Keepers is honoring the pastors and priests of our local congregations." (Geoff Gorsush, Brothers! Calling Men into Vital Relationships, p.50) “
Phil Arms, a Southern Baptist pastor from Houston says that, “Promise Keepers’ open endorsement of the Catholic Church is disgraceful, unchristian and proves once again their full-fledged, unapologetic willingness to defy the Scriptures while giving ‘lip service’ to their commitment to it. No one can accept Catholic doctrine as legitimate and simultaneously confess that he believes the Bible as God’s word. These are diametrically opposed belief systems. Catholicism is but one of the false belief systems recognized by Promise Keepers as legitimate.” (Arms, op.cit., pp. 302-303) The Promise Keepers welcomes all who say they are followers of Jesus Christ, regardless of what they believe. A Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Mooney or a Catholic will all say they believe in Jesus Christ, but it is a completely different Jesus. Promise Keepers makes no distinction, which is clearly against Scripture.
In the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta on February 13-15, 1997, Dr. John A Mackay, ecumenical Presbyterian leader, said that in 1967 that the World Council of Churches would provide the organization and the charismatics would provide the spiritual power to build the one-world ecumenical church. This is coming to pass today and the Promise Keepers is leading the vanguard of the new evangelical compromisers.
Their approach seems to be working. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles recommended Promise Keepers in the April 1995 publication of the New Covenant . It was also recommended by Cardinal Mahony of the L.A. Archdiocese. The Mormon stake president in Southern California, Chip Rawlings also recommended Promise Keepers. "The movement's Seven Promises are like something straight out of the men's priesthood manual for the church." (as reported in the Media Spotlight, "Promise Keeper Update", Volume 16, No. 1). The Promise Keepers is so intent on unity, they say believers should never be divided by doctrine. Why is Promises Keepers accepted by Catholics and Mormons? Because they preach a "non-doctrinal" gospel "without conflict". What is a "non-doctrinal" gospel? How can Promise Keepers claim to stand for integrity when it has no integrity with regards to the truth? How can you have the gospel of Jesus Christ without conflict?
The Fundamental Baptists make the following statement about Promise Keepers’ unity:
"Whereas the para-church organization known as 'Promise Keepers' advocates an unscriptural religious unity at the expense of sound doctrine and practice, accepts and promotes unscriptural charismatic teachings and the inclusion of Roman Catholicism, approves and uses psychological approaches that mix truth and error, uses unholy music and highly questionable speakers, and whereas they are aggressive in the pursuit of new members, a definite threat to Bible-believing Baptist churches who hold to doctrinal purity; therefore, be it resolved that the Southwide Baptist Fellowship stands firmly against it and its ecumenical bent" (Southwide Baptist Fellowship, meeting at Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, October 7-9, 1996).
The fact that so few people, including perhaps some of my readers, see nothing wrong with this is evidence of how far we have fallen. Shame on us! Promise Keepers instructs men to go back to their pastors and priests. Bill McCartney, the founder, shouts to applause: "Here me: Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're Catholic." He also encourages the "laity" to go back to their pastors and priests because, "We cannot rightly divide the word of truth. We need you to teach us." (Bill McCartney, Promise Keepers ‘94 Seize the Moment Men’s Conference, Portland, June 18, 1994 as reported by Dager, op.cit., p.12) McCartney believes the average man has no right of private interpretation of the Bible apart from the leadership (elders, apostles, prophets, priests, etc.). Sound familiar? Want to turn the clock back 500 years? Are you incapable of thinking and reading the Bible for yourself? This is not just “any body’s” opinion. This is a direct quote from the founder of Promise Keepers. Is this what you want?
Bill McCartney said during a news conference in the Buffalo Christian Center that "Although the movement is perceived to be largely Protestant, Promise Keepers has the approval of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, uses some Catholic speakers and welcomes Catholic men, including priests.” Under Promise Number 6, Bill McCartney says "The Body of Christ comprises a wide diversity of members. There are many denominations, various styles of worship, and representatives from all walks of life. ... the Bible says there is only one Body. Jesus prayed that we all might be one. As men who are Promise Keepers, we must determine to break beyond the barriers and our comfort zones and get to know other members of that Body. ... We're going to break down the walls that separate us so that we might demonstrate the power of biblical unity based on what we have in common ... be a bridge builder ... Pray daily for unity among Christians in your community." (Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, op.cit.) This is exactly what is wrong with Promise Keepers. An organization without walls is one without any Biblical integrity. Why does Promise Keepers seem to think it can reinvent or develop a movement that is superior to biblical Christianity?
The Promise Keepers is a movement made up of board members, supporters and speakers from many parts of modern Christendom who have ecumenical leanings. It is no accident these men are participating in Promise Keepers. There is nothing new to the move away from sound doctrine and toward unity at any cost. People say doctrine is divisive, and we shouldn't be negative. It is just that attitude that gives force to the ecumenical movement. I will let the Word speak for itself:
• "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine... but will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. (II Tim. 4:3)
• "holding fast the faithful word...that he may be able to exhort in sound
doctrine and to refute those who contradict”. (Titus 1:9)
q “For such are false prophets, deceitful workers, transforming themselves in the apostles of Christ. And no wonder; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (II Corinthians 11:13-14)
Phil Arms says it well, “It should not surprise us in days ahead when we discover that some of the most prominent, sought-after preachers and popular Christian media personalities in the world are among these false apostles and deceitful workers who are busily transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. The scope of this deception will devastate millions of people, blinded for a time, by the dazzling brilliance of a nation overflowing with false angels of light.” (Arms, op.cit., p. 241)
If these are the last days, how else will we be protected from the deception that is coming if we don't hold to sound doctrine? God gave us His Word. We are told to judge what we hear. Judge the spirits. Promise Keepers may have some good points along with fatal flaws. It is a movement to bring evangelicals to an ecumenical mind set and closer to the Catholic Church. A born again Christian walking in the light cannot possibly condone any of the heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church briefly outlined in a previous chapter. Even twenty years ago, no one would have believed we could have strayed so far away from our historic and doctrinal roots. We must distance ourselves as far as we can from that Harlot, drunk with the blood of martyrs. This is a stern warning - anyone who follows Her will end up on the wrong side. This is the path of destruction, the path of deception. Revelation 18:4-5 says, "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven and God has remembered her iniquities."
The extra-local organization is now rooted in thousands of churches across the land. “The greatest danger to the Church from ministries such as Promise Keepers is not only the distraction and diversion of its men and resources, but the infectious spiritually-darkened ‘caries.’ Men, often subliminally at first, are softened with scriptural-sounding phraseology, the hyped-up, benign-appearing, fun-filled Promise Keepers rallies and the impressive orations of high-profile popular Christ speakers.
The men who participate in Promise Keepers are slowly but thoroughly convinced and converted to a new ‘openness’ that opens their minds and hearts to the heretical and apostate beliefs and practices that are systemic to Promise Keepers’ leadership and mother church, the Vineyard movement. Spiritual cross-contamination is unavoidable. Thousands of men who attend Promise Keepers functions who hail from solid Bible-believing, Bible-preaching churches, return to those home churches as ‘carriers’, who without immediate spiritual antidotes, will eventually develop the full-blown manifestations of doctrinal delusions and misplaced priorities...They are unwittingly being infected by Promise Keepers’ poisonous influence.” (Arms, op.cit. 317-318)
The Apostate Church - A Political Movement
A research friend of mine, Russ Belant, asked James Ryle who is the Chairman of the Board of PK and Bill McCartney’s Vineyard pastor, if the PK is a political movement. He responded, “I don’t know what else you call 300,000 men. It is an army.” I attended the million-man march on Washington. The leaders of the PK protested loudly in all the media that the PK was not a political movement. So why not have the meeting in a nice central location like Kansas City? They now want to hold rallies in every state capitol. Is this still not political?
As we have said, the last days Apostasy will have to be very deceptive or no one will be fooled. It will have to be ecumenical as a religious movement, humanistic and New Age in its philosophy but well-hidden and accepted by mainstream Christianity. It is interesting to observe that the ecumenical movement is being driven by politics. If it were not for the common goal of fighting abortion, for example, evangelicals and Catholics would probably have never come together.
The worse things get, the more the cry will arise to do something about it. These are righteous causes and we have "right" on our side. But the cure may be worse than the disease. No doubt, things are getting worse. The family unit is falling apart. Our educational system is not working. Crime is increasing. Traditional values are ridiculed in schools and entertainment. The courts have taken all values out of our society, out of our schools and families. There is no more God, no Judgment, and no Eternity. There is here and now. There are no absolute truths - only relative truth that is redefined by individuals as they go. Define your own reality. The family is whatever you want it to be: two men plus kids, two women plus kids, various whatever’s plus whatever... Schools teach children to define their own values. We are a society that has lost its mooring.
Many well-meaning Christians believe the solution is a political movement that will bring back the good old days, that will restore order and decency, a time when people cared, unborn babies were not sacrificed for some woman's convenience, when there were morals and standards, even a movement that recognizes God, that brings prayer back into schools. You don't have to look very hard to see the political movement at work today in the "religious right." The causes are good and just.
Now let me offer a few clarifications. I don't believe there is anything wrong with being a good citizen, with paying taxes, with voting on issues and for representatives. However, our basic citizenship is not in this world. We are "strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear they are seeking a country of their own." (Hebrews 11:14b-15) There is no hope for this world apart from the saving life of Christ. The only real outward change results from an inward change by Christ's transforming life in us There have been examples such as the Welsh Revival of the past century, where society itself felt the impact of so many changed lives. But that is the only way. The prince of this world is Satan, the ruler of the powers of the air (Eph. 2:2). Again, I come back to last day’s prophecy. So the big question is, what type of church takes dominion over the earth in the last days: a revitalized, powerhouse of a church or an Apostate church?
The church position on the last days is very important in terms of its worldview. Does Jesus come back before or after the millennium or not at all? The traditional evangelical position is that there will be a great Apostasy (falling away), the Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ followed by the millennium or Christ's thousand-year reign. Our eschatology or view of the last days determines what we do.
The Church in Dominion
The historic position of the Roman Catholic Church is dominionist. It has always felt that God would establish dominion through the Roman Catholic Church. This was almost accomplished during the dark ages. Recently, within modern evangelical Christianity, two dominionist views have emerged. One dominionist view is called "reconstructionism" and has to do with the covenants of God, and is more of a doctrinal justification for church dominion. The other, generally known as "dominionism" is more related to the modern charismatic movement. It has more emphasis on the supernatural and often with a "New Age" twist. I would recommend a definitive work on the subject by Albert James Dager titled Vengeance is Ours, The Church in Dominion.
Reconstructionism. calls for the church to take dominion on the earth. It is espoused by R.J. Rushdooney and his son-in-law Gary North. Their basic tenant is that all men are called to ethical living under the terms of the old covenant. It is not unlike the Promise Keepers in that it believes in three of God's covenants: family, church and civil government. "Briefly, the five points are that the covenant model contains 1) a transcendent view of God: that he is distinct from His creation; 2) a concept of authority, or hierarchy, based on representation; 3) a society based on ethics, particularly the laws of the Bible; 4) a system of sanctions based on an oath; 5) a system of continuity based on something other than blood relations." (Dager p. 207 citing Ray Sutton). The Coalition on Revival (COR) has been strongly influenced by this dominion teaching, as I suspect, has the Promise Keepers in the way they encourage political activism and accountability to one another. Their discipleship concept is very similar to the Promise Keepers mentoring and accountability "where discipleship involves participation in intimate relationships, commitment, confrontation and accountability. It must reach down into the daily details of life: decision making, finances, relationship, habits, values, etc." (Dager p. 246 quoting Article 3 of the COR "The Essentials of a Christian Worldview of the Coalition on Revival) The goal is for the church to establish dominion over social, economic and political institutions. Christians are to be "accountable" to one another in a kind of informal hierarchy that everyone follows. This is similar to what the Promise Keepers propose. Some reconstructionists also believe America has a special calling, established as a Christian nation, chosen by God to bring the kingdom of God to the earth through America's might and power. Generally, dominion is seen more in physical and political terms rather than spiritual or supernatural.
Dominionists believe the church will take dominion over the earth politically and supernaturally. Dominionism involves a number of movements: Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, Restoration, Christian Identity, Charismatic Renewal, Shepherding-Discipleship, Kingdom Message and Positive Confession. Dominionists are upset by the perception that old-line evangelicals believe the church raptures before the Tribulation. They are offended by the image of a church rapturing defeated with its tail between its legs and the idea that 144,000 saved Jews will do in seven years what the church hasn't been able to accomplish in nearly 2,000! (I have a problem with that too but for different reasons.) Dominionists believe that Satan usurped man's dominion over the earth and the church is to take it back by taking over government and social institutions. Only then will Jesus return. There is a basic problem we just saw above in the authoritarian structure necessary to implement a dominionist agenda. Although Pat Robertson waffles on the issue, his books and television program seem to clearly reflect it. The number of dominionists today reads like a "Who's Who?" of Christianity. Christian bookstores are full of their writings.
These same people make up the core of the "religious right", everyone from Pat Robertson and Paul Crouch, to Jack Hayford, John Wimber, John Mears, Larry Lea, Tim LeHaye, Dennis Peacock, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagen, etc. The goal of these men is to "take back the nation for Christ "- not just spiritually but politically. Catholics are with the program as well. Gary Potter, president of Catholics for Christian Political Action, says, "When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more abortion on demand and no more talk of right for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism (i.e. multiculturalism) will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil." (as quoted by Religion in Politics, Vol. I, No. 1)
These dominionists tend to be charismatic and have a strong emphasis on signs and wonders and miracles. If you have ever attended their meetings, they are extremely interested in supernatural manifestations. I have seen people selling pieces of wood reported to be from the Cross and pieces of rock from Christ’s tomb that purportedly have miraculous healing powers. I have seen people who claim their cavities were filled and legs were lengthened. Now I ask, is God the only one that can work miracles? "For false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and will show signs and wonder in order to lead the elect astray. (Matthew 24:24). The one who’s coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders." (2 Thess 2:9) Isn't this one of the key attractions of the deception? I have known so many Christians who can talk of nothing else. But some of the Dominionists using terms such as Joel's Army (a teaching of the Vineyards and the Kansas City Prophets), the Manifest Son's of God (from the Latter Rain movement), the New Breed (from the telecharismatics) the Over comers, etc. refer to a time when an elite army of God (them) will smite all enemies (narrow, Bible believing Christians) literally and then establish the Kingdom of God (with them ruling, of course). This is pretty heady stuff, and it is not uncommon. This is the mindset of the dominionist! So what are they doing now?
The religious right consists of Protestants and Catholics who are concerned with what is happening in our country and rightly so. I personally have no disagreement on an issue-by-issue basis. The problem is in the ultimate goal - the church taking Dominion. I also have a problem when churches lobby members to get people registered and to vote in a particular way. Since when does the Republican Party have a corner on righteousness? How do we know that one candidate is better than another? It makes no sense to vote in someone because of their stand on one or two issues or their assurance that they are church-going, "born again" Christians. We know many people will say anything to get votes. Yet, well-meaning Christians are getting caught up in politics, believing the candidate’s and party’s lies. Every time the church, as an institution (in contrast to individuals) has gotten caught up in politics and the world, it has suffered. Right now, the religious right is getting entangled in the web of the economic and political right. We are merely being used because they need the votes. What an unholy alliance! And yet the "good" shepherds are leading their flocks blindly down the road of political activism. Shame on them!
So what could be better than a political movement that promises to restore morality, law and order, Biblical principles? It may turn out that the cure is worse than the disease. How do you control crime? Just put a number in your hand or forehead so you can't buy or sell with out it. How do you control morality? Have spies turning people in? How do you bring order? More police control? We have studied fascism in Germany between the wars. Hitler came to power on a moral platform. He promised to clean up Germany and make it a proud Christian nation again. The church supported him and thought Hitler was their savior. Once it became more apparent what he was really doing, Christians didn't rise up and protest. There was denial and collusion. Very few stood against the fascists. The Christian leaders fell in line and a few "were replaced." The followers dutifully followed. Many fine Christian young men willingly participated in the Holocaust thinking they were doing God a favor. They were convinced Jews were enemies of their nation and of Christ. They believed their cause was a righteous one. They were on a quest for God and their country. It’s not that difficult to convince people and turn them. Hitler did it and there were not many dissenters that lived to tell about it. How much more is our self-righteous country capable of?
Couldn't this lesson be a portent of our own future? Don't you think that the last day’s deception will be many times more compelling that of Hitler? Do you think you’re are going to be alert and aware enough to escape? Do you really think it will be so easy to detect? I certainly hope so because many dear Christians are on the downhill slide right now and don't even know it! Do you think God has injected you with some magic immune shot just because you're saved? No, it is not that easy. He has given you His Word as a warning. Everything you need to know is there. Yet, the Jews missed the Messiah the first time because of the hardness of their heart and their closed minds. The stakes are too high to just blindly follow. We are talking about the battle of the ages. Ninety nine percent of the Christians in Germany acquiesced. Sure a small number stood. Do you think it will be any different now? The question is, what side are you going to be on? The mass hysteria surrounding the Promise Keepers movement is not a good sign.
"It is a deadly potion that the Church has mixed for itself, mixing patriotism to corrupt Gentile power with the Word of God. It is spiritual fornication, the fornication of Babylon the Great. It is precisely this kind of thinking which has slaughtered the saints of God through the centuries: the blood of the saints is involved here. God help those who drink of this potion! They are drinking damnation to themselves. Oh, what a sinister and evil potion this is, when religion and politics are mixed together, no more lethal and noxious poison exists." (S.R. Shearer, The Beginning of the End, 1985, p.75)
The Promise Keepers and Psychology
Promise Keepers is a good example of how psychological practices are being introduced into the church. The rallies are innocuous but the meetings organized at the local level are where the indoctrination takes place. The Promise Keepers uses a variety of speakers and written material. Some are good and some are not so good. But since Promise Keepers is "non-doctrinal" and doesn't really stand for anything, a mixture is to be expected. One book, which was passed out at the conferences since 1993 that illustrates the Promise Keepers psychological approach. They stopped using it but they still support their use of the book. It is by "Christian" psychologist Robert Hicks, titled The Masculine Journey, Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood. It also comes with a separate study guide that is to be used in small group meetings. I have studied both in great detail.
The first thing to note is that just like most of the great founders of psychological determinism, Hicks has come up with six stages which can conveniently be illustrated by Biblical words and examples. There is nothing "Biblical" about these six words. Anyone can try and justify deterministic constructs with illustrations and stories. John Trent, Ph.D. declares in the forward that these are "six words the Old Testament uses to define a man's journey." (Robert Hicks, Masculine Journey, Navigator Press, Colorado Springs, p. 10) How does he arrive at that conclusion? Is this really true or just Hick's brilliant idea? Trent also says, "a whole generation of men like us have gotten lost on the way to finding ourselves, our purpose and our mission in life." (Ibid.,p.9) So this book is supposed to help us get there? Let's see. Below are the first two stages of the Masculine Journey.
1. Creational male - Adam - The Noble Savage. Hick's says Adam was a "creational kind of guy." (p.32) He sites Margaret Mead's studies where she coined the term noble savage with the idea that they had a kind of purity. Why would Hicks quote a humanist whose research has been discredited and who is trying to justify and glorify man's sinful condition?
Hick's says, in my fight for self-affirmation, I am revealing the basic fabric of what I am and how I am made. The work of psychologist and self-help writers only affirms this reality, whether they realize it or not. The therapeutic remedies that are designed to recover or develop self-esteem, and the self-help literature, only affirm this intrinsic, deeply rooted but unexplained value. (pp. 35-36) As we have said above, self-affirmation and self-esteem is the psychologist's idea of man's problem, not God's.
2. The Phallic Male - Zakar: The Mysterious Taskmaster This entire section is disgusting because it is so obviously Freudian - reducing man's identity to the male sexual organ. But even worse, nearly all pagan and false religions worship the phallus. To suggest that Jesus was a "phallic kind of guy" and to even make the statement "but it was never recorded that Jesus had sexual relations with a woman...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!" (Ibid.,p. 181) Why did he say, “it was not recorded that”? Does he think he may have? Does he really believe the incarnate God was tempted by every sin? Does that include bestiality? Sex with the dead? Give me a break. Where does it end? This whole section is Freudian and an affront to our God and Savior.
I won't go into the other types here, but only to say that both Freud and Jung used mythological archetypes such as the "warrior" to describe the rituals that lead to manhood. The discussion of the "wounded male" and all of the other categories is an unhealthy mixture of psychological determinism and "Biblical" examples. He quotes Robert Moore on page 77. Moore is a psychoanalyst teaching at the C.G. Jung Institute in Chicago and is one of the authors of King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. Hick's stages of masculinity are very close to Jungian archetypes. By the way, Carl Jung was a New Age enthusiast deeply involved in the occult who had his own "spirit guides."
Hick's uses questionable examples from the Bible. For instance, is Samson a good example of a "phallic male" - a hero who couldn't keep his “male organ” under control and died as a result?
In the Study Guide to the Masculine Journey, there is section titled The Phallus and Male Fantasy, Hicks talks about initiation rites. He suggests playing a game called "people bingo" to draw men out and into the discussion. The following is question three (p.32-33) from the study guide, which is to be discussed in the small group men's fellowship:
"Our culture has presented many initiation rites, or passages to manhood, that are associated with the phallus. Which ones have you experienced? Do you have a story to share with other men about one such event?
• When I was potty trained and stopped wetting my bed
• Pubic hair and growth
• An unfortunate experience with pornography
• My first dating experience
• The wedding night
• Conceiving my first child
Men are asked to respond to the following questions:
• With my sex life I state who I am and what I worship.
• Our sex life matters to God, even what happens to our semen.
• I have no idea what "normative" male sexuality is like.
On page 87 of the Study Guide, it poses the following questions: Put in the language of the masculine journey, Jesus was phallic, with all the phallic passions we as men experience . Jesus knew every temptation of the flesh yet did not sin. It follows logically that He was tempted in all ways sexually. In what specific areas do you think Jesus was tempted? Which temptation of Jesus touches a felt need of yours, such that you could begin your walk with Him, or your talk with Him, at that point on the masculine journey? (emphasis added)
Are these appropriate subjects to discuss with a group of men? Is this what men need? Or is this some kind of spiritual voyeurism? Or ritualistic paganism? Do you wives want your husbands playing "people bingo?" Do you want your husband to fantasize about your wedding night with a group of other men? What point is there in this? Should our Lord Jesus Christ be reduced to the level of Freudian psychology, talking about Jesus as “a phallic kind of guy”? Nearly every pagan religion in the world worships the phallus. Is this what you want? Does this psychological mumbo jumbo really help in male bonding? Is this what the masculine journey is about? This is sick, offensive and ridiculous! How low do we have to go? I'm not making this up. I'm reading it in Promise Keepers material - material that is passed out in conventions! This is but an example. There is more. Don't you have better things to talk about when you get together to bond?
Promise Keepers also encourages men to be accountable to another man for every area of life, especially his finances, his sexual life and his relationship with God (see Promise Keepers workbook titled Seize the Moment)? Since when are we to be accountable to other men for things we do in the sanctity of the marriage bed? Why are men held accountable for finances but are not held accountable to Scripture in terms of sin (such as homosexuality) or sound doctrine (such as acceptance of Catholics)? Something is wrong here.
Some say the Promise Keepers has distanced itself from the Hicks book. . We telephoned the Promise Keepers and learned that the book The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks had been discontinued by the PK. Even today you can write to them and they will send you a copy of a seven-page letter of support for The Masculine Journey. The fact that Hicks' book was used and distributed for so many years by the PK still represents a failure in discernment and leadership. But this is not the only Promise Keepers’ publication that reveals their unbiblical view of man. Many other books still used by the PK reinforce their continued orientation toward psychology. For instance, "Brothers! Calling Men into Vital Relationships" by Geoff Gorush, "What Makes a Man" by Leighton Ford, Don Osgood, Bill McCartney, etc. and part of the book The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper.
Promise Keepers is still full of "psychobabble." It uses the latest psycho "pop" terminology: bonding, sensitivity, "self" this and that. The use of personality typologies or development stages may be interesting as one man's idea, but it is as spurious as astrology in terms of meaningful accuracy. The myths promulgated by Dobson, Gary Smalley, John Trent and others who are supporting the Promise Keepers shows their psychological orientation. In their book The Language of Love, Smalley (one of the major Promise Keepers speakers) and Trent go into the differences between men and women and being "right" and "left" brained in spite of the fact that recent research has discredited the theory. (Psycho Heresy II, op.cit., pp. 211-223). These theories may be cute and entertaining, but they are simplistic at best, just plain wrong or totally misleading at worst. There are so many psychological theories that are presented as fact with all authority by "doctor so and so", "Christian psychologist." For example, the importance of early childhood memories, birth order, interpretation of memories and dreams, the idea that your memory is a steel trap that captures everything, the idea that you are formed as a person by the time your are six and there is little or no hope for change (without psychological help of course). These theories have been discredited, along with most of Freud's theories, by researchers in psychology. So why are "Christian" psychologists promoting these worn out speculations and trying to dress them up in "Bible talk?"
One last example is the Promise Keepers book, Daily Disciplines for the Christian Man by Dr. Bob Belts. He champions the 12 steps program of Alcoholics Anonymous. (AA is also championed by Dr. Dobson) Recent studies have shown that AA is not that effective. It is an "addiction as disease” movement and research found one counseling session was as effective as any AA meeting. Contrary to the popular notion, AA does not stand for the gospel - just help from a "higher being". (Psycho Heresy II, op.cit., pp. 249-255) It is not a model to follow. Please see Christian Psychology's War on God's Word, the Victimization of the Believer by Jim Owen. To the Christian psychologist, the problem comes down to being a victim and low self-esteem, not sin and lack of a relationship and obedience to Jesus Christ.
The same relativistic thinking we criticize the world for, has gotten into us. We no longer believe in absolutes. Our standard is no longer just the Word of God. Why can't psychology be a standard too? Maybe low self-esteem really is a problem. We play "The Greatest Love of All" on our "Christian" radio stations - "learning to love ourselves?" What's wrong with Catholicism? They believe in Jesus, don't they? It’s not so bad. Alcoholism isn't sin - it’s a disease. Homosexuality isn't sin - it’s a biological tendency or something in the environment caused it, maybe the water. The problem is poverty, poor parenting skills, abuse, poor communication, low self-esteem, stress, etc. Maybe we need a new revelation of psychology to explain things for us.
Promise Keepers brings men together in small groups. Bible centered fellowship among men is one thing, but Promise Keepers encounter groups styled on the self-help tactics of Alcoholics Anonymous is another. These programs bring in psychological determinism, sexual voyeurism and a gospel focused on finding and actualizing self. It creates an organization that leads to self-discovery, not the real building and service that should occur between men in a normal fellowship of believers.
Promise Keepers has revived the faulty encounter group structure. Men are put through various recognizable encounter group formats. The goal is to shock and break down inhibitions. Hicks’ study guide assumes that most men lead sinful, dysfunctional and worldly rather than godly lives. The normal man may wonder if something is wrong if he doesn’t fit the description of the “wounded warrior.” The guide rarely offers a biblical answer but focuses on sin, temptations and abnormal behavior. As in the case of many encounter groups of the 70’s, the dissonance created leaves men feeling vulnerable, having confessed there hidden thoughts and actions to others, with little to fill the empty space.
Again, Phil Arms summarizes the problem brilliantly. “men have forever been enamored with building highways to heaven. Often these highways have been paved with the religious works and efforts of man... Human attempts to repackage “Christianity” by co-mingling it with extra-biblical demands, principles of psychology and other additives must be recognized as the saboteur’s handiwork. Introducing scripturally illegitimate books, concepts and human reasoning into biblical Christianity’s doctrine only derails men who otherwise might go on with God in a deeper capacity... Throwing in ‘some truths from the Word of God’ to ‘sanctify’ the ‘whole’ is, again, futile. However, Promise Keepers’ material and guiding ministerial techniques do precisely this. By so twisting the Scriptures to make it appear as though the Word of God is the source behind their concepts concerning men becoming ‘real men,’ they capture unsuspecting hearts with biblical sounding phraseology.” (Arms, op.cit., pp. 205-206, emphasis his)
Is Promise Keepers a Political Movement?
So is the Promise Keepers a political movement? Of course it is. There are "three non-negotiable's of manhood: integrity, commitment and action." (Dager, Special Report, p. 12 as reported on the P.K. Portland Convention). There is a call to action in the home, church and community. It is just a matter of time before the "community" agenda is developed. It certainly has the foundation of a powerful political force. Second, some of the professionals supporting Promise Keepers certainly have a political agenda, not the least of which is Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family along with the many other Christian ministries now headquartered in Colorado Springs thanks to El Pomar Foundation and the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church (Religion in Politics, p. ???)
Although Promise Keepers appears to have some good points, there is more than enough information available that we should have nothing to do with it. It already has an ecumenical flavor, is heavily into psychology and could become a strong political force. Promise Keepers growth is extraordinary. It is difficult for some to question Promise Keepers, people see success in numbers, the conventions are electrifying and the subject matter, on the surface, is like mother and apple pie. But Hitler and Mussolini had good points too. Hitler cleaned up the liberal excess and sins of the Weimar Republic and Mussolini made the trains run on time. Just because a movement appears to be powerful and good, doesn't mean it is a great move of God. Using this line of reasoning, one would certainly have to embrace the Mormons as a non-smoking, non-drinking, family values kind of organization.
In analyzing the speakers and supporters of Promise Keepers, there is little doubt, there is a political agenda. First a million Promise Keepers marched on the nation's capital. Now they are planning on marching on every state capitol. The Promise Keepers represents an awesome force once mobilized. Well over a million men who have attended rallies are being organized at the grass roots level in churches across the land. Where is it leading those willing participants? Is this what we as last days Christians are supposed to be involved in? What is happening on the home front? Phil Arms describes the process:
“This is a disturbing but obvious characteristic or Promise Keepers. Thousands of laymen from biblically sound churches have been swept up into, via their participation in Promise Keepers, heretical Third Wave Vineyard theology. Rarely is this a result of the larger Promise Keepers rallies where Promise Keepers’ true doctrine keeps a low profile. The doctrinal trap is sprung in many of the smaller meetings and the one-on-one relationships promoted by Promise Keepers "mentoring" efforts.... The baggage accompanying them, though by design not obvious at most of their major rallies, is weighted with spiritual contraband from enemy territory. Men who become involved in Promise Keepers’ philosophy and doctrines become "carriers" of the germ of deception. They continue to take this germ back to their home churches, spreading the epidemic of spiritual AIDS, and rendering those churches impotent to resist the spiritual infection of polluted, poisoned concepts of God and doctrines of devils. Beneath the attractive facade, Promise Keepers is laden with everything from Christian humanism and damnable heretical and apostate beliefs to a total disregard for the integrity of God-established scriptural doctrine”. (Phil Arms, ibid., pp. 250-251)
Reaction to Promise Keepers Criticism
When I wrote my original article on the PK’s several years ago, there were only a few voices of alarm. Today, there are literally hundreds of articles, not to mentioned the book by Phil Arms book The Trojan Horse as well as numerous Internet sites dedicated to the obvious danger of the PK movement. But, are these effective in warning people? There are several reasons why people don’t see the obvious: 1) They may be so weak in their foundational knowledge of the Word of God, they don’t know any better, 2) They have been overwhelmed by the rally, the momentum and the outwardly appearing “good “of the PK movement, they don’t have enough spiritual discernment to see through it, or 3) they have been drawn into it because of relationships with people they trust. This is the most likely scenario and it shows how easily it can happen. When friends, pastors, relatives and everyone gets on the bandwagon, you look pretty silly sitting behind. Beware, the person that goes along with the crowd, without questioning will surely fall away!
Our special report on the Promise Keepers report was sent the across the country and got a mixed reaction. Some hated it and some loved it. Some asked to be taken off the mailing list and others asked us to send them extra copies to pass out. However, we were concerned by the reaction of some. As we consider not just the possibility but also the probability of deception, there seems to be a general predisposition to not seriously consider what is being said.
1. There is a predisposition to ignore the facts and avoid the issues. Some said the Promise Keeper report made “serious charges”. They were not serious charges but serious information gleaned directly from the Promise Keepers’ own material.
2. There is a predisposition to attack the messenger rather than face the issues. The messenger is always condemned not for “what he said but the way he said it.” This is an effort to divert attention from the issues raised. Some who loudly condemned us were asked if they read the material. They said “no, but heard about it from someone who did.” Critics never disagree by arguing with the issues raised.
3. There is a predisposition to trivialize points. We did not quote just anyone but the founder and the president which do represent the "heart and soul" of the Promise Keepers. We are not talking about “pop” psychology and isolated practices, but the psychology that has completely infiltrated and permeated our churches, Bible Schools, Seminaries and Christians hearts and minds.
4. There is a predisposition to not take a stand because it may alienate people and cause division either within a church or between churches. There is a predisposition to care more for what other people think than for the truth.
5. There is a predisposition against being specific. Some may agree with what is being said but are unwilling to name names. How can the position and the person be separated? Should we stop public debate in the Body of Christ because it is unloving and unchristian? If so, where is the search for the truth?
The Scripture itself tells us what things are going to be like in the "last days." So what should we do? Become ecumenical and join the rush to oneness? Join hands in the fight against abortion, crime, poor schools, etc.? Embrace "Christian" psychology and "Christian" psychologists as Christian? Or, should we open our eyes and carefully and objectively look at what is happening around us in the light of Scripture? As a brother observed, Biblical truth fosters division. It is unavoidable. If Christians stand for the truth in the "last days" they will be going against the tide. Everyone else will be going in the other direction. You may be accused of being elitist, isolationist, unloving, angry, judgmental and so on. Are you willing to pay that price or do you just want to go along with the crowd?
We are told that the time will come when "apostate" Christians deliver up true Christians, thinking they are doing God a favor. The predisposition to follow without question, to dismiss information like this as irrelevant, to not even read it or to attack the messenger and completely ignore the issues, is dangerous - not the way to stop from falling away. It is still true today, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:12-15). Please notice that this passage is used in conjunction with false prophets. False prophets lead through the broad gate of popularity and acceptance. A person "predisposed" to not look and listen, to not consider the issues, to condemn people who would question, and to blindly follow their leaders is not likely to make it. If a Christian is going to stand in the "last days" it will take a life filled with Jesus, obedience, diligence, honesty and courage.
Look at the roots of the Promise Keepers? Where did it come from? We pointed out that it clearly resembles the Word of God movement that McCartney was involved in Ann Arbor. The accountability, the rallies, etc. But when McCartney moved to Boulder, Colorado, whom did he team up with? The Vineyards. The Vineyards have been on the leading edge of the current “revival” of signs and wonders sweeping the world. As Phil arms says, “The (PK) organization is the theologically and doctrinally illegitimate offspring of Wimber and his Third Wave wonders.” (Arms, op.cit. p. 241)
What has happened to it in the past 8 years? The rallies are not as big as they used to be but it is well established in the men’s ministries in many churches across the land spreading its unbiblical teachings and methods. These movements have a way of going underground and the resurfacing years later in a different form. The last chapter is yet to be written on the Promise Keepers. Now there is much more material on the Internet as the eyes of many have been opened to its true nature.
The Signs and Wonders movement