- Promise Keepers was founded in 1990 by Bill McCartney (born 1940), then the head coach of the University of Colorado football team. The stated goal of this "nondenominational," parachurch organization is to celebrate Biblical manhood and motivate men toward Christ-like masculinity. "To unite men through vital relationships to become godly influences in their world -- by making promises to Jesus Christ and to one another that last a lifetime," reads Promise Keepers' purpose statement.
[By definition, a parachurch ministry is one "raised up" supposedly to accomplish something churches are charged to do by the Scriptures. However, one should question raising up an organization outside the church (parachurch) to accomplish objectives ordained by God to be produced by the normal, proper functioning of the local church and all its parts, especially the development of "godly men." All too often, what is established to assist local churches, ends up competing with them and introducing unscriptural philosophies and practices.]
"Promise Keepers' mission is to help promote spiritual revival in the homes, churches and communities of this nation. This will be accomplished by modeling, praying for and instructing all men to grow in Christ-like masculinity, enabling them to become 'promise keepers' to the Lord who loves them, to their wives who trust them, to their children who need them, and to the world which must be influenced by them" (Spring 1992, Men of Action).
Although Bill McCartney is credited with founding Promise Keepers, until late-1998 he was basically the figurehead, holding the title as CEO of PK. Randy Phillips was the president and administrative head of Promise Keepers. As of October 1998, McCartney is overseeing three divisions as president and founder. Randy Phillips has moved from president to the new position of vice president for global ministries. Phillips has served as a senior pastor for five years, as an associate pastor for ten years, and led the Denver Broncos' Bible study for two years. Phillips, like McCartney, is a former Roman Catholic. Both are also affiliated with the hyper-charismatic Vineyard movement -- Vineyard churches emphasize the validity of "signs and wonders" for today and view miraculous displays of divine power as essential to the growth of the Church. (See Note at end of report.)
Promise Keepers programs include regional stadium rallies, pastors' conferences, one-day leadership-training seminars, books, study guides, videos for small men's groups, national TV spots, a newsletter, and an Internet web site. Books have become a big seller for PK; Thomas Nelson Publishers has nearly two dozen titles on the market for men, including a revised version of McCartney's autobiography, From Ashes to Glory. Nelson is coming out with new titles from PK speakers and is offering retailers merchandising aids to help direct male customers to newly expanded men's sections (4/29/96, Christianity Today).
- Various newspaper articles appear to accurately portray the Promise Keepers movement:
(a) "Many people credit Edwin Louis Cole of Euless with starting the Christian men's movement with his 1982 book Maximized Manhood. His organization, called the Christian Men's Network, publishes a quarterly newspaper and conducts seminars for men across the country called the Real Man Event. ... Promise Keepers' gatherings at football stadiums ... often are accompanied by men sharing problems, openly crying and embracing one another. After a conference ends, they are encouraged to form small groups to meet regularly and continue to talk about their struggles" (10/27/94, Dallas Morning News, p. 7A).
(b) "Promise Keepers asserts that men, by walking away from their family duties, are responsible for much of America's societal dysfunction, which the group's leaders say includes high school dropouts, a soaring crime rate, racism, divorce, homosexuality and abortion. ... [and that we can] restore the nation by exhorting men to become 'promise keepers instead of promise breakers.' ... The women's movement, Promise Keepers says, is at least in part a reaction to the pain and abuse women suffer at the hands of men. This analysis worries critics, who say that such talk could move the group beyond the family to political activism. Some observers see Promise Keepers as the latest turn in the search for male identity in a fast-changing and conflicted society. In American history through the 1950s, the family structure was unabashedly patriarchal. The 1960s and 1970s ushered in the Sensitive Man who acknowledged a feminine side and sought to nurture. The 1990s brought the Wild Man, hairy-chested and testosterone-driven, extolled in author Robert Bly's best seller, Iron John. Now, Promise Keepers' slogan is: 'A man's man is a godly man.' In some ways, it is a throwback to the days of 'Father Knows Best.' Dad is still in charge, but he is kinder, gentler and a lot more spiritual" (7/9/94, The Bloomington Herald-Times [Los Angeles Times story]).
(c) "Promise Keepers combines the Jesus Saves preaching of Billy Graham with the male bonding message of Robert Bly, the call for racial conciliation of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the marital advice of Ann Landers. ... it [the 6/95 PK rally in Houston's Astrodome] had men roaring and applauding Jesus as if he had just scored a touchdown. ... Leaders hope that men will leave the rallies, return to their neighborhoods and churches, and form support groups and partnerships with other men to share feelings, concerns, and advice" (6/27/95, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. B10).
- Promise Keepers started out small in 1991 -- 4,200 men attended the first Boulder, Colorado Conference (held at the Coors' Event Center). In 1992, 22,000 men attended. In 1993, 50,000 men jammed University of Colorado's Folsom Stadium, and another 52,000 in 1994. But that's not all. For the first time in 1994, Promise Keepers held regional conferences in six additional cities, with over 227,000 men in total attendance. All totalled, Promise Keepers 1994 attendance at its seven conferences was approximately 280,000 men.
In 1995, Promise Keepers held rallies in football stadiums in 13 major U.S. cities that attracted 727,000 men. Registration fees of more than $38 million were taken in (at $55 per registrant). In 1996, Promise Keepers held 22 rallies and drew 1.1 million attendees (1,098,534 to be exact); revenues exceeded $65 million (at $60 per registrant). (One event was cancelled in 1996, at Denver's Mile High Stadium, due to a dispute over an alleged $300,000 seat-tax liability.) In 1997, 18 rallies were held, but attendance was down more than 40% to about 630,000 (leading to the cancellation of two of the rallies). In 1998, the slide in PK popularity continued -- 19 events attracted only 453,000 men; this in spite of the fact that the events were now free. Only 15 events have been scheduled for 1999 (with 10 of the 15 rallies to be in smaller indoor arenas; total attendance is projected to be about 300,000), and revenues have been projected at only $41 million.
- On October 4, 1997, PK held its Stand in the Gap: A Sacred Assembly Of Men rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C. -- to "kneel in prayer between the Lincoln Memorial and nation's Capitol to seek forgiveness as men ask God to restore America ... we must be of one accord ... our feet in unity... confessing personal and collective sin" (PK's version of the Farrakhan "Million Man March"?). Ten million dollars was budgeted for this free event. Attendance estimates ranged from 480,000 to 700,000. (Speakers included Mike Timmis, a Roman Catholic and PK board member, Jack Hayford, Joseph Stowell, Max Lucado [Church of Christ pastor/false gospel of baptismal regeneration], James Robison, and Tony Evans, along with a taped message from Billy Graham.)
At the Stand in the Gap rally it was also announced that PK would no longer charge a registration fee of $60 for its conferences. Since then its income has plummeted. McCartney announced that some of the 19 conferences scheduled for 1998 might be cancelled, since the stadiums and arenas require substantial deposits and Promise Keepers does not have the money. McCartney unveiled PK's plan for the next three years. He said he wanted every pastor in America to participate in this plan. Every pastor was expected to march to the same unified plan. He said, "We need a unity of command," and, "We need to have everybody on the same page." The page, of course, is PK's page. He said that the Promise Keepers clergy conferences in 1998 would be for the purpose of instructing the pastors in their marching orders. He said, "[R]acial and denominational reconciliation standards will be presented at these pastors' conferences in practical ways that we can live in unity in the Body of Christ, and together make a difference for the Kingdom!"
- To keep up with phenomenal growth of its early-days, Promise Keepers had more than 500 staffers at one point in 1997 (about 30% made up of minorities) (up from 22 employees in 1993, 85 in 1994, 300 in 1995, and 437 in 1996) and a 1997 annual budget of more than $117 million (up from $96 million in 1996, $64 million in 1995, and only $4 million in 1993). (Tax records show that from 1993-1995, PK has booked a profit of $14.7 million, with more than half of that in 1995, the last year for which tax records are available. Net assets are $15 million.)
However, because of falling attendance and free admission at future events (PK's 1997 income fell shy of $70 million), PK laid off about 100 employees in 7/97, and the remainder of all paid employees worldwide effective 3/31/98. PK hired back about 180 staffers later in 1998 after a successful fund raising campaign (see below). Part of the problem might be attributed to the pay levels of PK's executives. PK's 1996 tax returns, which were obtained by Time magazine, show that PK's five vice-presidents were paid between $78,000 and $100,000 each; then president, Randy Phillips, earned $132,512. Their 1997 salaries were the same or higher. McCartney currently draws no salary, other than paid health insurance. However, he is paid "honorariums" for speaking at PK rallies (about $4,000 each; $21,000 total in 1996). In addition, tax records show McCartney received $61,833 in compensation plus other benefits for the years 1995-96. (Source: Plains Baptist Challenger, 8/97).
- Due to its financial woes, McCartney claimed in early-1998 that God wants every church in America to give $1,000. Speaking to a clergy conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, on February 19, attended by more than 3,000 pastors and church members, McCartney said that God told him to say that "every church that names the name of Jesus is supposed to give Promise Keepers $1,000" (Steve Persall, "McCartney appeals for church donations," The Denver Post, Feb. 20, 1998). He went on to say that big churches are "supposed to call the smaller churches and say, 'It wasn't all that hard for us, but can we help you?'" and small churches which lack the $1,000 are supposed "to call a larger church and say, 'Can you help us out here? We want to facilitate what God is doing.'"
To claim that every church in America is supposed to send Promise Keepers $1,000 is absolute insanity. PK does not obey the Bible and has no Biblical authority for its existence. It has its own man-made agenda, yet it has the gall to think that every church in America should be at its beck and call. (Source: 2/24/98, FBIS.) [McCartney also sent a "SpeedAlert" letter in early-March, 1998, to every person on PK's mailing list -- a $98 donation was requested.]
- Promise Keepers has made concerted efforts to bring their program into the local church body. Their success is evidenced by the fact that many churches have now assimilated various Promise Keepers programs into their churches as a "springboard" for their local men's ministries. Men have been specifically designated as Promise Keepers "Point [Key] Men," who then aggressively recruit others and are responsible for keeping the group going. The Key Man serves as the link between his group and PK headquarters. (The "Point Man" name was changed to "Key Man" in 11/95):
"The Point [Key] Man plays an important position for initiating and facilitating men's ministry in his church, and he is vital to Promise Keepers. ... The Point [Key] Man, with the approval of his pastor, is the critical connecting link between the men's ministry of his church and Promise Keepers. Either a lay leader or a pastor, the Point [Key] Man initiates, organizes, and supports the men's ministry program of his church [including small group development]. He acts as a conduit for resources, including materials, national conferences, and training seminars provided by Promise Keepers and other contributing ministries" (Spring 1992/April 1995, Men of Action). [The Key Man application (circa 1999) has a statement to be signed that reads: "I support Promise Keepers' desire to see Vibrant Men's Ministry, Vital Prayer Networks, and Intentional Reconciliation established in every church."]
PK's Dale Schlafer was asked, "What if a pastor wanted to remove a Key Man, but men's group disagreed and pressured the pastor to keep him?" Who would carry the authority in the local church? Schlafer stated that the pastor would prevail; however, the pastor is urged to contact PK before any final decision is made so that PK can work through what is going on. This is an unhealthy arrangement and sets the stage for the possible destruction of the local church. If a local church is to maintain its independency, the church must have the final authority in such matters. This question would never have been asked if PK was not trying to gain a foothold in the local church. Perhaps pastors who support PK will respond to this by saying "Not to worry -- if I have to remove my PK Key Man, I just won't notify PK headquarters." Who is to say that none of the men will call PK? Would you bet your life on it that PK will not meddle in the matter, when they have expressed interest in doing just that? Can a pastor be sure that the PK men in his church (who have made vows to support PK no matter what) will not have the pastor fired or start a church split? Why would PK express any interest in challenging a decision by any pastor to remove or replace a PK Key Man, while at the same time telling the PK's to "Obey your pastor, no matter what?"
- Promise Keepers "Ambassadors" have been positioned by PK between the Field Ministry staff and the Key Men. Their function is to introduce Promise Keepers to churches in the community and to recruit Key Men -- "He carries the message of Promise Keepers to his community, identifies potential Point [Key] Men, and encourages reconciliation across denominational and racial lines" (4/95, Men of Action). The Ambassador Candidate booklet states that, "Because Promise Keepers is committed to building relational bridges, Ambassadors must avoid negative political, doctrinal, and denominational remarks and discussions," and that if an Ambassador encounters "a church outside his personal comfort zone" in doctrine or culture, "he should remember he doesn't have to answer every question" (pp. 3-4). (Emphasis added.) Nevertheless, the "walls of denominationalism" are difficult to break down -- "this process may take six months to a year" (p. 12).
Once a man is accepted to be an a Promise Keepers Ambassador, the cautions against standing for sound doctrine become even more specific. The Ambassador's Instructional booklet warns the Ambassador that he no longer represents himself and his "personal stands on a doctrinal issue," but instead represents Promise Keepers "unique mission" and is "participating in the task of uniting men." The booklet gives "Some of the [doctrinal] issues that should not be addressed: Eternal security; The gifts of the Spirit; Baptism; Pre-tribulation or post-tribulation; Sacraments or ordinances" (p. 10). The Ambassador is told that the PK's Purpose Statement and Statement of Faith had been "carefully worded" in order to avoid doctrinal conflict. Of course! How else could it be accepted by Mormons and Catholics alike (see later in this report)? (Reported in the 11/95, The Berean Call.)
Texas PK Conference Director Vinton Lee has stated that PK is "not just a conference ministry. ... It is an entry point for men," through PK's church ministries in an effort to pump its discipleship curricula directly into local congregations. Over 200,000 local churches had tapped Promise Keepers for information as of 7/95. But because much within Promise Keepers' teaching materials is Biblically unsound and heavily psychologized, this is a real problem for lovers of the truth. [As of 5/95, there were 10,840 Point [Key] Men and Ambassadors with Promise Keepers (4/29/95, Houston Chronicle). (11,842 at year-end 1995)]
- Two of our main concerns about Promise Keepers are the blatant promotion of psychoheresy on the part of most of Promise Keepers most popular authors and speakers and a rising tide of ecumenism that blurs doctrinal distinctives. (Two other concerns, discussed later, are PK's charismatic emphasis and its outright disdain for doctrine.) Indeed, Promise Keepers is both aggressively psychological and ecumenical:
"We believe that we have a God-given mission to unite men who are separated by race, geography, culture, denomination, and economics. ... (John 17: 20-23) We are dedicated, then, to addressing the division that has separated the body of Christ for too long. We are committed to call men to reconcile in Christ, to live as one. ... 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. Coach McCartney's challenge to us at Promise Keepers '93 targeted two phases of man-to-man relationships. Phase one focuses on meeting with a squad of men 2-4 times a month. Phase two involves meeting once a month with men of different ethnic or denominational backgrounds. ... Coach challenged us to focus on the three P's: (1) the pages of Scripture, (2) prayer, and (3) understanding one another's pain. ... when we take the risk of becoming vulnerable and transparent, we more readily understand and share the pain of our brothers. This establishes trust" (Fall 1993, Men of Action). (Emphasis added.)
It could be argued that ecumenism is the very heart of Promise Keepers. This aggressive ecumenism (the attempt to break down the barriers that separate world religions so that cooperative efforts can be undertaken) can be further illustrated from the Promise Keepers 1994 Conferences brochure -- Seize the Moment, and from the Winter 1994 issue of Men of Action:
"Clearly, something unprecedented happens when men from all denominational, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds assemble in the name of Jesus Christ. ... invite and travel with not only your friends and family but with men from different ethnic and denominational heritages. ... Remember those who are outside your church, denomination, and ethnic group." (Emphasis added.)
Notice in the above quotes the subtle line that is crossed as denominational barriers are placed in the same category as racism and social discrimination, as if they are equitable concepts. How are these barriers created? By doctrinal differences!! The implication, thus, is that doctrinal differences, like racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences, must be ignored if unity is to be achieved. Hence the slogan of all ecumenists -- "doctrine divides." Groups like Promise Keepers call upon Christians to disobey Christ by accepting and accommodating the presence of theological error in their midst (The Communications Digest, November-January 1996, Marc A. Graham, "Promise Keepers: Satan's Newest Ecumenical Strategy," pp. 5 & 9).
[The 1/6/97 Christianity Today reported that PK was taking new steps to achieve its goal of denominational unity and to allay fears that it will steal men's loyalty from their churches. PK was forming separate "partnerships" with various denominations. Agreements had already been made with three tongues-speaking groups (Assemblies of God, Church of God [Cleveland, Tenn.], and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church). (The AOG had appointed a staff member as a liaison between the two groups, had sent many of its leadership for training in men's ministries, and planed to use PK for some technical support. The AOG's new men's ministry was named "HonorBound: Men of Promise.") PK was finalizing agreements with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.]
The whole thrust of Promise Keepers, then, is anti-doctrine. Theology is of very little significance to PK; instead it is a "relationship with Jesus" that matters. Life, not doctrine is important. But, there can be no spiritual life without truth, and there is no relationship with Christ unless it is grounded in the Word. Christ and His truth cannot be separated! (3/97, Think on These Things, p. 3).
- The book Seven Promises of A Promise Keeper is a workbook being used by the Promise Keepers movement. Contributing authors include Campus Crusade's Bill Bright, pop psychologist James Dobson, ecumenical evangelist Luis Palau, psychologist Gary Smalley, hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford, and Bill McCartney. It was published in 1994 by Dobson's Focus on the Family Publishing. Under Promise #6 is a chapter entitled "A Call to Unity" by Bill McCartney. The following excerpts from this chapter and the workbook notes which follow it reveal the unscriptural confusion pertaining to the nature of the church and the dangerous ecumenical goals of Promise Keepers:
"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. [John 17] 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."
The prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 17 is abused and twisted out of all sense of context when it is said to be a prayer for ecumenical unity. The unity Christ prayed for is one based on truth and the Word of God (Jn. 17:6,8,14,17,19), whereas the ecumenical movement downplays the importance of doctrine. (In fact, in Promise Keepers zeal for unity, it has decided that doctrine is a stumbling block to unity, rather than the Biblical basis for it.) True unity is a product of the Holy Spirit's regenerative and enlightening power, not of man's puny, imperfect efforts. The Bible knows absolutely nothing of a proper unity apart from mutual commitment to God's Truth -- "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). The answer is no, they cannot, unless they aim to disobey the Word of God. That Promise Keepers leaders care nothing for a pure Gospel and for Bible truth is plain by their attitude toward Roman Catholicism (see below). (Excerpted from the 1/95, O Timothy, p. 23.) (For an excellent analysis of Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, see also the Jan-Feb 1995, Foundation Magazine, "The Promise Keepers Movement is Dangerous," pp. 4-12, 31-33. This article is also available in tract form from the Fundamental Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 6278, Los Osos, CA 93412. The tract demonstrates how PK has looked to extra-Biblical sources and has attempted to dress up the seven promises in Biblical garb.)
- Promise Keepers not only erases doctrinal distinctives, but embraces and supports error. At the 1994 National Conference, Bill McCartney made it clear just how far Promise Keepers is willing to go with their doctrinal indifference and desire for "Christian" unity (quoted in the 9/19/94, Christian News): (Statements similar to the one below were also made by McCartney at the 1994 Promise Keepers' regional conference held in Portland, Oregon, and in the book Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, pp. 160-161.)
"Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're a Baptist. Are you born in the Spirit of God? Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're a Pentecostal. Are you born in the Spirit? Now hear this! Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're a Roman Catholic. Are you born into the Spirit of God?"
Thus, McCartney views the Catholic Church as just another Christian denomination with a few unique aspects, rather than an apostate organization that teaches works salvation, extra-Biblical revelation, the worship of idols, and dozens of other false doctrines. And yet in Folsom Stadium (1994 National Conference), all were led into what was called and considered to be public worship and prayer with all the others there in the stadium in the name of "Christian" unity. But it's a false unity because there is no agreement in the true Christian faith! (Jude 3 -- ... contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.) [See Media Spotlight editor Al Dager's interview with Promise Keepers then president Randy Phillips in the Media Spotlight 11/94 Special Report: "Promise Keepers: Is What You See What You Get?" pp. 11-12. In summary, Promise Keepers official policy toward leading Roman Catholics to the truth is basically one of hands-off. Within Promise Keepers, it seems that rebuke, correction, and exclusion apply only to those who would insist on purity of doctrine among those with whom they fellowship.]
- As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the feeling is apparently mutual. The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is quite willing to welcome McCartney and friends back into fellowship with Romanism. An article in the 3/15/95 The Tidings, an official publication of the L.A. Archdiocese, had this to say about Promise Keepers ("'Promise Keepers' Promises Spiritual Renewal for Men," p. 3):
"[Promise Keepers] began among more fundamentalist and evangelical Christian communities, but [is] now being expanded to include Catholic congregations. ... at the urging of Cardinal Roger Mahony [of the L.A. Archdiocese] ... has studied the feasibility and appropriateness of utilizing Promise Keepers at the Catholic parish level. [It was concluded that] there is no 'doctrinal' issue which should cause concern to the Catholic Church. Promise Keepers places a very strong emphasis on returning to your own church, congregation, or parish and becoming an active layman. There is no attempt at proselytizing or drawing men away from their faith to another church." (Emphasis added.)
One Catholic who attended the Anaheim, California regional Promise Keepers conference in May of 1994 was so "inspired" he brought "the concept back to his parish, which in turn sponsored a Promise Keepers seminar for 100 men, with presentations by local priests." The Los Angeles Archdiocese has concluded that "Promise Keepers can grow at the local parish level ... without adversely impacting existing parish programs or finances." In fact, the L.A. Archdiocese is quite confident that no Catholics will be lost to Protestant churches through Promise Keepers, since "one of the promises of the [Promise Keepers] program is to return [a PK participant] to [his] local church ..." Thus, Roman Catholic leaders are quick to observe how Promise Keepers can be used to build their own church which preaches a false gospel! [With this official Roman Catholic endorsement of Promise Keepers, the 5/5/95-5/6/95 Promise Keepers Los Angeles Men's Conference drew in excess of 72,000 to the 100,000-seat Los Angeles Coliseum.]
The Catholic charismatic magazine New Covenant has also featured Promise Keepers. On the front cover of the 4/95 edition and in an article titled "Bands of Brothers," New Covenant cites Promise Keepers as a hope for bringing men back into the churches. The article describes Promise Keepers as focusing on male bonding as a means to restore men's identities as members of a warrior class. (Reported in Media Spotlight, Vol. 16 - No. 1, "Promise Keepers Update," p. 3.) [Patterned after PK, the Catholic church has developed two separate new men's groups of their own: "Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers, which focuses on small groups and obedience to eight commitments; and Ministry to Black Catholic Men, which accentuates personal and community change through a message of responsibility for rebuilding relationships, families, and communities" (4/29/96, Christianity Today).]
An article in the 7/23/95 Today's Catholic titled "Promise Keepers' Christian crusade draws Catholic men," claims that Catholics have become very active in Promise Keepers. In fact, PK has even made a practicing Roman Catholic (Steve Jenkins) a PK Field Ministry representative for all of the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin! Jenkins used to be a computer salesman, but became involved in PK after attending the 1992 PK conference in Boulder, Colorado. The same issue of Today's Catholic also reported that an official PK Men's Ministry Leadership Seminar was held in July of 1995 at Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, where 640 Catholic men attended. The conference closed with a Catholic mass performed by Steubenville's president, priest Michael Scanlan. [Men's Ministry Leadership Seminars were held at Franciscan again in 1996 and 1997. Scheduled to speak at the 1996 event was PK V.P. Dale Schlafer. Other speakers included Catholic priest Michael Scanlan and Catholic Deacon Raphael de los Reyes, Director of Radio Peace Catholic Broadcasting. The notice in the Franciscan University '97 Summer Conference Magazine says: "Join NFL coach Danny Abramowicz, pro-family advocate Alan Keyes, Detroit business leader Mike Timmis [now a PK board member], Hispanic evangelist Deacon Raphael de los Reyes, and a dynamic team of speakers including Jim Berlucchi, Jeff Cavins, John Mooney, Mark Nehrbas, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, and Dale Schlafer of Promise Keepers as we strive together to be men of Jesus Christ and faithful sons of our heavenly father."]
- PK has also received endorsement from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The 5/17/97 Buffalo News (New York) contained a report on the upcoming Promise Keepers conference in that area. Following are excerpts from this report:
"Although the movement is perceived to be largely Protestant, [Bill] McCartney said during a news conference in the Buffalo Christian Center that PROMISE KEEPERS HAS THE APPROVAL OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, USES SOME CATHOLIC SPEAKERS AND WELCOMES CATHOLIC MEN, INCLUDING PRIESTS. ... The bishops' position, contained in a 1996 position paper prepared by its Committee on Marriage and Family, indicates that Catholics may participate in Promise Keepers events. The conferences, the paper suggests, may 'be filling a spiritual and pastoral vacuum' in the lives of some Catholic men and challenged church leaders to develop programs to meet those needs. Bishop Henry J. Mansell of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese said Friday that 'Catholics are free to attend the Promise Keepers conference.' ... 'It is his hope that after the conference there will be follow up experiences in their home parishes,' said Monsignor David M. Lee, diocesan director of communications."
- At a PK meeting in Plainview, Texas in 1995, a Catholic priest urged listeners to value themselves because they were made in the image of God. He also encouraged PK-ers to keep themselves pure. One observer commented on this:
"Imagine involving the Catholic Church and Catholic priests into telling men to keep their promises and to keep themselves pure. Look at any country where the Catholics make up the majority, and you will find an immoral and corrupt society. In those societies, women have very few rights, and the men have open season on committing adultery. Imagine Catholic priests speaking on keeping promises and staying pure, when 40% or more of the Catholic priests are homosexuals [by the Catholic Church's own admission]. ... [and] are charged with molesting children, especially boys" (12/95, Plains Baptist Challenger, p. 4).
- Promise Keepers also has no problem involving Mormons in its meetings. While Mormon headquarters has no official position on Promise Keepers, many Mormon men have and continue to participate in Promise Keepers. Local Mormon leaders generally agree with Promise Keepers seven promises and have privately praised the movement and commented on how attendance "has been a life changing experience for some of the Mormon men." Promise Keepers has given at least one presentation to a Reorganized Mormon church that was "very high" on the Promise Keepers and "would no doubt be going with it" since they had "no problem with it at all. ... It's a wonderful program. The men at my church will be participating." (Reported in the May/June 1995, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, "Promise Keepers, Catholics, and Mormons ... Together," pp. 1,3.)
[Chip Rawlings, a local Los Angeles lawyer and leader in the Palos Verdes Stake (a group of Mormon congregations), has publicly urged members to participate in PK. PK's seven promises are "like something straight out of the men's priesthood manual for the [Mormon] church," he told the L.A. Times (5/6/95 article). It is interesting that Promise Keepers, while claiming to preach a non-doctrinal gospel at its rallies, finds acceptance even among Mormon leaders, whose theology and Christology are aberrant (Mormons view Jesus as Satan's brother, the product of the Father's physical intercourse with Mary, who then attained Godhood as had His Father before Him), and Roman Catholic clergy, who insist that true salvation rests only in the sacraments of the Church.]
- In late-1997, a unique opportunity to examine the validity of PK's salvation message became available on the Internet -- Promise Keepers posted their opinion of an online salvation tract titled "Meet Jesus." When printed on paper, "Meet Jesus" is six pages long. The first three pages culminate in a "salvation prayer," while the last three address discipleship. It is a very professional presentation complete with pictures, but more than that, it is positive proof that the PK doctrine of salvation is a perversion of that found in the Bible:
NO GUILT -- The essence of "Meet Jesus" is that "we have inherited" a "disease" called sin, but that we are not at fault. Blame is placed on Adam; personal guilt for our own sin is completely ignored.
NO ACCOUNTABILITY -- The words "punishment" and "hell" never appear in "Meet Jesus." The consequences of sin are said to be "eternal separation from God." In addition to being a half truth (at best), this must seem rather inconsequential to a man who has already lived his entire life separated from God.
NO REPENTANCE -- Aside from a pat on the head repentance is never mentioned. The prayer for salvation has a sentence that says, "I turn from my sin," but the reader is never given any indication of what this means, or that he even has any personal guilt or sin from which to turn. His sin could very well be nothing more than the "diseased spiritual DNA" mentioned earlier in the tract.
NO TRUTH -- Without a doubt, "Meet Jesus" was intended to be acceptable to all. A Catholic, Mormon, or Jehovah's Witness could read it without seeing any contradiction to their own false doctrine. In fact, the Mormon heresy that we are all children of God from birth is well supported in "Meet Jesus." The opening words of the "salvation prayer" are "Father, I've come home."
NO JESUS -- Perhaps the most egregious offense in "Meet Jesus" is the fact that you don't. You would think that a document intended to introduce the Lord would talk about who He is or what He did. In the first three pages of "Meet Jesus" (which lead up to the "salvation prayer") there are a total of two sentences (36 words) that say anything about the person and work of Christ. The words "blood" and "atonement" never appear. Aside from one allusion to His deity, He is never specifically identified. The doctrines of substitution and propitiation are never mentioned either in name or concept.
We cannot say we are surprised. An ecumenical organization made up of men who cannot agree on what one must do to inherit eternal life cannot be expected to accurately present Biblical salvation. A group like Promise Keepers, dedicated to the un-Biblical agenda of a one world church and government, isn't likely to ignore its goals by proclaiming the truth of the word of God. Could anyone be surprised to learn that such a group is not actually bringing lost sinners to "meet Jesus"? (Source: 10/97, Plains Baptist Challenger; "Promise Keepers vs. Biblical Salvation," by George Shafer.)
- On the national radio program "Promise Keepers This Week," for 8/31/96, PK founder Bill McCartney made the following remarks:
"I look for real problems in the future in the area of denominations. I believe that what we've seen has been the grace of God. I believe that -- there've been thousands of Catholic men that have come to Promise Keepers, and they've been blessed and they've gone back to their churches, and they've said, 'We want more of this.' And the Catholic churches have gathered, the bishops have gotten together, and they've sanctioned Promise Keepers. They said, 'Go ahead and go. This is something God is doing.' Well, in the meantime, while this has been slow to develop, God's been bringing the various Protestant denominations together. ... Now Promise Keepers is going to have to understand that more and more Catholics are going to participate. And what every guy needs to do is stop looking at people's labels and ask this question: 'Does this guy know Jesus? Does he love Jesus with all his heart? Has he been born of the Spirit of God?' And if you see that fruit, then quit making judgments. Just accept him. We're all the same before God ... So let's not start categorizing people. Let's just allow God to be God and he can bless who He chooses to bless. And that's how Promise Keepers is going to grow."
We should focus on the matter of labels, but Bill McCartney is very confused about labels. Labels mean something. They are important. I am glad that the pharmacist uses labels. I am glad that the grocer uses labels. I am also glad that Christians use labels. Our labels commonly define what we believe; they define our doctrinal position, which tells others whether we have the Jesus of the Bible or a counterfeit one. PK has a counterfeit one.
- Based on the information detailed above, it is evident that in addition to the well-known Seven Promises of Promise Keepers, there are three unwritten promises also being made and kept. The three unwritten promises are just that -- unwritten. You will not find them directly stated in Promise Keepers' books; nor do they appear in any of their talks, whether at the rallies or in smaller gatherings. It is doubtful, if asked, that the Promise Keepers would directly affirm or deny these three promises. Nonetheless, Catholics, Mormons, and Reorganized Mormons know that the three unwritten promises exist and they trust the three promises will be kept. The three unwritten promises of Promise Keepers are very simply:
(1) Promise Keepers will not violate your doctrines;
(2) Promise Keepers will not proselytize your men; and
(3) Promise Keepers will send men back to their parishes, churches, and wards.
If these three unwritten promises were not committed to and kept, why would Catholics, Mormons, and Reorganized Mormons encourage their men to participate? Would they send their men to rallies or meetings where their doctrines would be violated or their men would be proselytized and stolen from their parishes, churches, and wards? Absolutely not!
The "gospel" message of the Promise Keepers is not the true Gospel message. The true Gospel message will, at times, offend and condemn. Furthermore, true Biblical preaching and teaching will speak of heresies and aberrant teachings and will even name names, as the apostle Paul did. Imagine, if you will, the apostle Paul having a "rally" and inviting the Scribes, Pharisees, Essenes, Judaizers, and others. Then imagine Paul committing himself to not violating their doctrines, not proselytizing them, and then sending the men back to their "churches." Underneath the hoop, holler, and hype of the Promise Keepers movement is an ecumenicalism that smacks of the last days spoken of in Scripture, rather than what some have called the "greatest move of God since the day of Pentecost." This "move of God" is arguably the largest (in terms of numbers) and broadest (in terms of denominations) ecumenicalism that the world has ever seen (Adapted and/or excerpted from "Promise Keepers' 3 Unwritten Promises," PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Sept-Oct 1995, pp. 1-2).
- McCartney also stated at the 1994 National Conference that he thought perhaps the Lord's main purpose for Promise Keepers was to gather His clergy, and that in the Summer of 1996 McCartney hoped to gather 75,000 of them in Denver (see next item for change of venue). To hype this plan, McCartney held a revival-style "altar call" of sorts for pastors. All the pastors present among the 52,000 in attendance were asked to come down to the stage. All the people sang and yelled for ten minutes while about 3,000 pastors came forward. McCartney had all the pastors assembled in front of the stage turn and hold up their hands to the crowd and a blessing was pronounced on the people. Then the pastors turned and kneeled, and there were prayers said confessing sin for not carrying out their office faithfully, including "putting up barriers on account of denominational dogma"; i.e., a prayer asking for forgiveness for being a pastor who is not doctrinally indifferent! Some pastors there called this the "emotional highlight" of the weekend and "special." There was waving of thousands of hats in the stadium and a screaming liturgy of the crowd "we love you," and the pastors responding "we love you." (Reported in the 9/19/94, Christian News, p. 6.)
Those who love the truth should take note and watch carefully because Promise Keepers has a very large emotional following and organizational momentum. In spite of their errors, they could be very effective at this point -- an appeal to a priestly pastoral class. In fact, McCartney has stated that we as Christians need our pastors to rightly divide the Word of Truth for us because we can't do it for ourselves!
- Promise Keepers held a "1996 National Clergy Conference" (2/13/96-2/15/96) in Atlanta's Georgia Dome stadium. The theme for the conference was "Fan Into Flame," because McCartney believes "God wants to bring revival to His church through its clergy" (2/26/96, Christian News, p. 10). The purpose of this gathering, according to McCartney, was to "tear the hearts of pastors wide open so that a single leadership can be produced." He had hoped to "bring as many as 100,000 ministers and priests of all races together" (7/1/95, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. C8). [Actual attendance was 39,024, which represented all 50 states and more than a dozen foreign countries; 600 in attendance were Roman Catholic priests!] Speakers for the event were Jack Hayford, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, and E.V. Hill. Steve Green provided the ecumenical contemporary music, while Billy Graham sent a message relayed to everyone that PK is "the organization that helps the church work," and needs to "tear down the walls that separate us." Also, James Dobson's Focus on the Family sponsored a three-hour evening reception for the attendees on 2/14/96.
At the beginning of the conference, hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford was speaking and trying to influence everyone to "dance in the Lord," an unscriptural routine favored by the fanatical wing of Pentecostal charismaticism. Hayford said he learned the dance in Africa, and later the Lord spoke to him directly saying, "May I have this dance?" He then began doing an African folkdance around the podium, suggestive of the dances associated with heathen witch-doctoring. [Nobody at the conference seemed disturbed that Hayford was teaching them Charismatic worship forms, much less that he claimed to receive these teachings through direct revelation from God!] General musical choices at the conference were of the satanic hard rock variety (ear-splitting noise) that was utterly devoid of true spirituality. (Reported in the 3/11/96, Christian News, p. 11.)
In keeping with the spirit of paganism, PK had a group of Cherokee Indians walk 168 miles from North Carolina to perform a name-giving ceremony. Since the highest honor that an Indian can receive is a name, the Indian's Chief conferred names on Randy Phillips and Bill McCartney. Phillips was given an Indian name that means "God's Eagle," while McCartney received the name "Victorious Warrior." Both were honored with Indian Headdress, a poem was read called "No More Broken Treaties," and a former Indian Medicine Man, Peter Gray Eyes, prayed over Phillips and McCartney. What will PK come up with next? (Reported by Christian Interactive Network's live coverage; and the Spring 1996, Men of Action.)
McCartney even encouraged the pastors present to enter into a blood covenant. A major thrust McCartney gave was, "Commitment is seen in discipleship and a blood covenant. The blood covenant means to be bound in speech and action with all who are in this covenant. This covenant is stronger than family and denominational ties." He then asked, "How strong is your commitment to the blood? Do you agree?" This was followed by an ear-piercing shout of "We all agree!" from the 39,000 clergy. The idea of a blood covenant is not Biblical; it is rooted in pagan spiritual practices whereby two people would cut themselves and mingle their blood in order to form a bond stronger than family ties. McCartney's idea of a blood covenant is to accept everyone who calls himself born again without regard to beliefs and practices that are contrary to Scripture. McCartney was asking the "clergy" to enter into a blood covenant with false teachers. And the amazing thing is that they heartily agreed! What does this say about the discernment and spiritual condition of so many "clergy," particularly the PK-enamored clergy. (Reported in the 8/96, Media Spotlight, "Promise Keepers Keeps On Keeping On," p. 6.)
When a question was asked at a press conference regarding "laughing revivals" -- where those involved "bark like dogs" and "bray like donkeys" -- Dr. Henry Blackaby (SBC author of the mystical book Experiencing God), speaking on behalf of PK said, "We don't try to evaluate that, and neither do we take a position regarding women serving as pastors." Dr. Joseph Stowell [President, Moody Bible Institute] immediately declared, "Our God does not ever wear an angry face. He deals with compassion." [We don't know what Bible Dr. Stowell uses, but it is not the same one we use! Does he really think God did not have an angry face when He told Moses He was going to destroy Israel for its sin (Exodus 32:9,10), or that Jesus Christ did not have an angry face when He drove the money changers out of the temple? The Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ "looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5).] These thousands of clergymen hugged one another, laid hands on one another's head, and also exchanged names, addresses, and phone numbers. This took place so that when they returned home they could being to network in communication and to begin "prayer meetings" together. They were urged to refrain from "criticism of any other group." PK wants reconciliation in spite of doctrinal differences between churches -- even Protestant and Roman Catholic groups (Ralph Colas report, 4/1/96, Christian News, pp. 1, 9-10; bracketed comment from O Timothy editor, David Cloud).
The Atlanta Clergy Conference included compromise, ecumenism, apostasy, Jesuit casuistry (the end justifies the means), and hyper-emotionalism, along with a theology based on relationships rather than Biblical truth. Thus, Promise Keepers has once again proved that it is much more than a group attempting to help men live godly lives. It is a committed program of intentional compromise -- an ecumenical train moving from one area to another. PK's premise that unity "is based on our love of Jesus" is incorrect. Unity must be based on the unchanging Word of the living God (Ralph Colas report, 4/1/96, Christian News, pp. 1, 9-10). [The very idea of a clergy conference is itself antithetical to Biblical truth. There is no clergy class found in Scripture; it was an invention of Roman Catholicism and has been maintained through the Protestant churches. The concept is that of a priesthood separate from the priesthood of all believers.]
- Promise Keepers even invited women pastors to participate in its 1998 conferences. According to the Los Angeles Times religion page, Jan. 24, 1998, a few female pastors participated in the regional clergy conference on January 20 in San Diego, California. The LA Times interviewed one of these, Roberta Hestenes, pastor of Solano Beach Presbyterian Church and former president of left-wing Eastern College near Philadelphia (the teaching home of Tony Campolo). She said, "I find it surprising that I am going. But I've heard [Promise Keepers founder] Bill McCartney say that they desire to be supportive of women pastors, and I'm taking him at his word." This is not a new feature of Promise Keepers. In July 1996, Promise Keepers director for the state of Missouri, Louis Monroe, said PK welcomes female pastors. (Source 1/27/98, FBIS.) [Nine such Clergy conferences were held in 1998 (1/15/98-3/12/98), with the theme, "Equipping Leaders of Men: Practical Ways to Develop Men of God in Your Church.")
- In the Spring '92 issue of the Promise Keepers' Men of Action newsletter, it was reported:
"12,148 Committed Promise Keepers & Counting -- To date, that's how many men have made a decision to live their lives dedicated to the seven tenets of Promise Keepers. ... We have identified seven areas of a man's life which are directly affected by this commitment."
The Winter 1994 issue of Men of Action reports that there are now over 13,000 men who have signed the seven tenets of Promise Keepers; a 6/95 newspaper article said over 65,000 have signed pledges. Promise Keepers is now including commitment cards with each conference attendee's syllabus, so the number of commitments should dramatically increase.
The following is tenet number 5, which we believe encourages ecumenism and, thereby, directly violates the doctrine of Biblical separation (Rom. 16:17; 2 Jn. 10,11; etc.):
"A Promise Keeper is committed to reach beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity. He acknowledges the current division in the church and is discovering that God wants Christian men of all ethnic and denominational heritages, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, to stand together in honor of Jesus Christ. He is willing to cultivate relationships with his brothers in Christ in order to understand their pain. A Promise Keeper is willing to cross over the lines that have divided the church and meet with at least one man of a different race or denomination at least once a month." (Emphasis added.)
In addition, tenet number 7 states: (Emphasis added.)
"A Promise Keeper is committed to pursue vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs his brothers to help keep his promises. [Where is this in the Bible?] He agrees to meet with a small group of men 2-4 times each month. ... Each man willingly grants the others the right to inquire about his relationship to God, his commitment to his family, his sexuality, and his financial dealings. ..."
[Of the Promise Keepers' seven promises, Promise #5 reads: "A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of the church ... by actively giving of his time and resources." So, what is the result of the past eight years of PK? Religion researcher George Barna reported recently that male church attendance has shown NO increase since 1991, when PK sponsored its first event in Colorado. (Source: 12/1/98, Calvary Contender.)]
- For an example of just how silly Promise Keepers' infatuation with breaking down racial and denominational barriers has become, one only need look to the 6/94 Promise Keepers regional conference held in Denton, Texas (2/6/95, Christianity Today, "Manhood's Great Awakening," p. 23):
"Some 33,000 men gathered for the conference held last June, only to be sent fleeing by a devastating rainstorm that destroyed equipment and shut down the program for more than five hours. Recalls president Randy Phillips, 'When we got back together, we said "Lord, is there something you want to show us here?"' The men unanimously concluded that God had allowed the storm to happen to show them how much they were lacking in making the Texas meeting a racially mixed affair, says Phillips. 'After that, all the speakers laid aside their prepared messages and united together to address how racism has divided the church.'"
Over three years later, McCartney did his Martin Luther King impression at an
11/96 PK staff conference ("two marathon days of confession, repentance,
and reconciliation") -- "Promise Keepers has got to be a place where
our brothers and sisters of color feel respected, where they feel accepted, and
where they can finally say, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty we
are free at last'" (Spring 1997, Men of Action, pp. 5-6).
- One of the movements within Promise Keepers that is also gaining prominence within other ministries is the concept 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. Moreover, Promise Keepers believes that every man should not only have an older mentor, but also have a spiritual peer, as well as a younger man to whom he can be a mentor. Another word for mentoring would be discipling or shepherding, which has gained prominence within the charismatic movement. 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 (Brothers! Calling Men Into Vital Relationships:1993) is heavily psychological in orientation, not Scriptural (Media Spotlight, 11/94 Special Report on Promise Keepers, pp. 7-8).
Promise Keepers believes that as a part of mentoring, every man must be accountable to some other man, especially in the areas of one's finances, sexual life, and relationship to God. This partner gained through mentoring, then, must be given complete 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. This is a kind of covenant relationship not found anywhere in Scripture. In fact, to the contrary, God takes such covenants far more seriously than does Promise Keepers (cf. Num. 30:2). [Media Spotlight, 11/94 Special Report on Promise Keepers, p. 13. See also the 4/95, Men of Action, p. 8, for "An Open Letter From 'Generation X,'" which is a plea for mentors, all couched in psychological terms.]
One error that comes from this covenant relationship is the encouraging of men to take oaths. This unbiblical practice is not at all uncommon at Promise Keepers meetings. These oaths are supposed to entail life-changing decisions. Instead, they impose an extra-Biblical series of requirements on men. The Seven Promises themselves comprise nothing more than a surrogate sanctification that puts men under legalism rather than grace (9/95, The Christian Conscience, p. 24).
- Promise Keepers even goes so far as to mandate mentoring relationships. In Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper (pp. 55, 61) and its sequel, The Power of a Promise Kept (p. 4), PK teaches:
"It is impossible for men to fulfill the commands of Scripture without being in significant relationship with other men." (Emphasis added.)
Apparently God overlooked this fact when He only made Eve to help Adam fulfill the commands entrusted to him. Another PK author actually asks, "Do you have someone other than your wife with whom you can share your secret temptations and failure" (The Power of a Promise Kept, p. 123). By "other than," this author clearly means someone instead of your wife, not in addition to her, since only six pages later, he commends to the reader the example of one so-called promise-keeper who salved his conscience by telling his male soulmate, instead of his wife, about some infidelity he had committed. Another PK writer even lists factors to help husbands decide on a case-by-case basis whether they should confess infidelities to their wives (Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, p. 96), but then, without skipping a beat, this same author mandates that men develop bonds with a few other men with whom they can "acknowledge" their "secret sins." (Excerpted and/or adapted from the 3/4/96, Christian News, p. 13.)
- Does a "promise-keeper" even need to be a believer? Apparently not. Despite all the hype about developing godly men, Promise Keepers has now admitted that it doesn't know if its conference attendees have ever trusted Christ. In a 4/94 letter sent to men in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, Promise Keepers V.P. of National Ministries and "PK Minister at Large," E. Glenn Wagner, confessed that at an "invitation" during the opening session of Promise Keepers '93 in Boulder, Colorado, more than 5,000 men responded! But since there were not enough "trained counselors" available to help those responding, Promise Keepers decided to employ Billy Graham Evangelistic Association trained instructors to train the volunteer counselors that were to work each of the seven conference locations in the Spring and Summer of 1994: "The Promise Keepers Counselor Training Course [is] the same as the Billy Graham Counselor Training Course [with] ... classes ... developed over the last forty years to train counselors for Billy Graham Crusades." This should be cause for alarm to anyone familiar with Billy Graham Crusade methods.
Promise Keepers claims that at 1994's conferences, approximately 16,000 men "surrendered or recommitted their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ" (4/95, Men of Action). But for Promise Keepers, instead of that meaning that men's hearts were flooded with grief and repentance and seeking forgiveness, we are told they answer some form of an altar call, are given some words of loving assurance during "counseling" in the name of Jesus, and then challenged to go out there and try harder; i.e., they are pointed to a list of promises they must keep. Even under the most optimistic circumstances, if broken-hearted men were to hear the pure Gospel of Christ at a PK rally, with no strings attached, where would they seek ongoing comfort and fellowship once the rally had moved on to the next town? Would they be directed to nameless churches, churches that commend social friendships as the means of comfort, or to churches that obscure the gospel with their zeal? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God wants to unite men through vital relationships with each other in order to become godly influences in the world. It says that God wants to unite men into His Church with the One Man, Christ (10/16/95, Christian News, p. 14).
- Who are the speakers at Promise Keepers national meetings and what is their theology? The ministries of the speakers/teachers at Promise Keepers meetings run the gamut from compromising neo-evangelicalism and charismatic error, to psychospiritual occultism and ecumenical liberalism. It is, therefore, clear that these men are introducing the men attending these meetings to unscriptural doctrines and fellowships. (Dates spoken at Promise Keepers National or Regional Men's Conferences and/or concurrently held National Leadership Conferences are in parentheses.):
(a) Bill McCartney (1991-1999) -- Founder and board member of Promise Keepers, and head football coach at the University of Colorado until his January, 1995 resignation. A former Roman Catholic, McCartney's theology is now charismatic as evidenced by his membership in a local church affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship [the church has since changed its name to try to remove its Vineyard stigma] -- a denomination founded by hyper-charismatic, signs &wonders "healer" John Wimber. Promise Keepers also has McCartney's Vineyard pastor, James Ryle, on its Board of Directors, and Vineyard member Randy Phillips was its then president. (See later in this report for more on Ryle and McCartney.) [In his book From Ashes to Glory McCartney speaks glowingly of his Roman Catholic background, and asserts that he still believes much as a Roman Catholic. He states that he did not leave Roman Catholicism as much as he joined James Ryle's Vineyard Fellowship because it was "meeting his needs at the time."]
(b) Gary Smalley (1991-1997) & John Trent (1992-1993; 1995-1998) -- author, founder and President of Today's Family, Gary Smalley is the "Church's" leading proponent of Right-Brain/Left-Brain pseudoscience. This right-brain/left-brain myth, which claims to describe personality types by brain hemisphere dominance, as well as give insights to male/ female communication effectiveness, has been thoroughly discredited by secular neuroscientists (to say nothing of the fact that it also has no support in Scripture). The popularization of right-brain/left-brain has been largely due to the book The Language of Love, co-authored by Smalley and fellow psychologist, John Trent. (Both also have theological degrees, but apparently believe that the Bible alone is insufficient to handle people's problems of living.) As for John Trent, former Vice President of Today's Family, and now President of Encouraging Words, he talks about personality traits, not like those of the Bible, but astrology. He compares our behaviors to animals and says this is why we act the way we do -- he has you compare your actions to a lion, a golden retriever, a beaver, or an otter. (Trent has also endorsed Robert Hicks' book, The Masculine Journey, as teaching "what Biblical masculinity" is all about, and has written a book titled How to Handle Your Promise Keeper, directed to women who desire to control their husbands in the manner Smalley and Trent teach.) (See later in this report for details of the teachings in Hicks' book.)
(c) Chuck Swindoll (1994-1995) -- Swindoll is the former senior pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California (for 24 years); he resigned in mid-1994 to become president of neo-evangelical Dallas Theological Seminary. Swindoll's "résumé of heresy" is seemingly endless -- he recommends the books of many of the worst psychologizers, New Agers, and occultists imaginable, all under the banner of "all truth is God's truth"; he teaches a psychological self-love/self-esteem gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from that of the atheistic psychologists, in effect, denying the doctrines of grace and redemption; he openly supports ecumenical cooperation with Catholics and charismatics, all under the guise of "grace" and non-judgmental "acceptance"; he endorses the occultic practices of visualization and inner healing/victimization therapy; and he teaches that believers can be demon possessed. [At the 7/94 PK Boulder, Colorado conference, Swindoll, clad in faded denim, roared onto the stage astride a motorcycle to the band playing "Born to Be Wild," and then delivered a sermon on avoiding temptation.]
(d) Luis Palau (1992; 1995-1999) -- internationally known Argentinean evangelist Luis Palau ("the Billy Graham of South America") is a Catholic sympathizer whose ecumenical message is heavily diluted with pop psychology and Arminian easy-believism. He regularly cooperates with apostate Methodism and the radical fringe of Charismaticism (e.g., Oral Roberts).
(e) E.V. Hill (1992-1999) -- hyper-charismatic pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles (member in the apostate National Council of Churches) and V.P. of the National Baptist Convention. Hill praises Jesse Jackson (apostate, radical social activist) and has been linked with liberal groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (which endorsed the early-1993 Gay Rights march on Washington, D.C.!). Hill is a frequent guest speaker on various charismatic platforms (e.g., at Kenneth Hagin's RHEMA Center).
(f) Jack Hayford (1991-1999) -- author and hyper-charismatic pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California; he claims to have seen a vision of Jesus seated in heaven and to have heard Him speak! (At the 5/94 Promise Keepers regional conference in Anaheim, California, Hayford gave three reasons why God required circumcision in the Old Testament: " God wants to touch your very identity as a man;  He wants to reach out and touch your secret and private parts. This enables Him to better perform surgery on the heart;  God wants to touch man's creative parts.") He is the senior editorial advisor for Ministries Today, a pro-charismatic magazine published by Strang Communications, is a Promise Keepers board member, believes that the Catholic mass is a valid form of Christian worship (Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, p. 19), and believes that being committed to doctrinal distinctives at the expense of unity is an example of "small-minded sectarianism" (12/95, Charisma, p. 68).
(g) Gary Oliver (1991-1993; 1995-1996; 1998) -- author of Real Men Have Feelings Too, psychologist, Clinical Director of Southwest Counseling Associates, and Promise Keepers board member. Among the many Freudian and miscellaneous humanistic psychological models used by Oliver, his favorite appears to be one based upon the teachings of "Christian" psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb. Concerning PK and Catholicism, Oliver says, "Since day one, we've really encouraged Catholic participation, not because they are Catholics, but because anyone who loves the Lord is welcome."
(h) Larry Crabb (1992; 1996) -- author, clinical psychologist, and founder and Director of the Institute of Biblical Counseling at Colorado Christian University in Morrison, Colorado. Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs that supposedly motivate all behavior. This system has been derived from Freudian (the "unconscious") and humanistic (a hierarchy of needs) psychology, with great emphasis on so-called emotional needs.
(i) Robert Hicks (1993) -- Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Seminary of the East (Dresher, PA), pastor, psychotherapist, president of the psychologically-oriented Life Counseling Services, and author of the Promise Keepers endorsed book The Masculine Journey (foreword by John Trent). (See later in this report for details.) Hicks is the author of other psychobabble books: Uneasy Manhood, Returning Home, Failure to Scream, and Man of All Passions.
(j) Howard Hendricks (1993; 1995; 1997) -- psychologically-oriented Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Center for Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored many books about marriage and family life (e.g., Heaven Help the Home), and spends considerable time conducting so-called "Christian" marriage enrichment seminars. (Hendricks has also endorsed Robert Hicks' book The Masculine Journey as "an eye opening key to understanding the Bible's teaching on what it means to be a man.") He is also a Promise Keepers board member.
(k) Joseph Stowell (1994-1999) -- Ecumenical psychologizer and president of the Moody Bible Institute. Stowell has previous strong ties to the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC).
(l) Jim Smoke (1993) -- Executive Director of the Center for Divorce Recovery and author of Ten Ways You Can Grow Through Divorce. Smoke is a self-love advocate whose terminology sounds much like that of Carl Rogers.
(m) Bill Hybels (1994-1996) -- Author, church-growth guru, and the ecumenical, psychologically-oriented pastor of the 12,000-member Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.
(n) James Dobson (1993) -- pop psychologist, author, and founder and Director of Focus on the Family Ministries. According to Dobson, "low self-esteem" is the root cause of most societal ills. Dobson has heavily promoted Promise Keepers on his nationwide radio program, and Focus on the Family Publishing is one of Promise Keepers' publishers and produces most of its tapes. In fact, PK credits Dobson's nationwide radio program promotion of the PK '92 Convention as instrumental in PK's subsequent extraordinary growth. In PK's early years, Promise Keepers was keep afloat by a gift from Focus on the Family.
(o) Greg Laurie (1994-1999) -- author, crusade evangelist, and charismatic pastor of the 12,000-plus membership Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California; Calvary Chapel's Chuck Smith is mentor for this ecumenical psychologizer.
(p) Bill Bright (1992; 1995-1996) -- ecumenical/Catholic promoter and founder and Director of Campus Crusade for Christ. Bright was a signatory to the 3/94 ecumenical accord -- "Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," and won the $1 million 1996 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
- Also speaking at one or more of the six 1994 Promise Keepers regional conferences held in May-June and October of 1994 (in addition to those listed above) were Calvary Chapel's charismatic pastor, Chuck Smith and Boulder Valley Vineyard Christian Fellowship pastor and Promise Keepers board member, James Ryle. Total attendance at the six 1994 regional conferences was estimated at more than 225,000. (The October 28-29, 1994, Dallas meetings were not originally scheduled, but still they drew over 30,000 men.)
At the 7/94 Boulder, Colorado National Conference, "A Christian rock band set the mood. When the music stopped, the crowd rose to do 'the wave,' shouting 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' ... 'We're scoring baskets for Jesus,' declared emcee Bob Horner, an official with Campus Crusade for Christ." Then there were Swindoll's motorcycle antics described above. (7/29/94, Newsweek, "The Gospel of Guyhood," pp. 60-61). Not to be outdone, later in the evening Gary Smalley made his entrance on a kiddy-sized Big Wheel bike. All this in the name of Christian manhood! (Nate Adams, author of Nine Character Traits Separating the Men from the Boys, says that Promise Keepers is a fun thing and stresses the importance of the conferences giving men the chance to express their boyish and playful sides. Another observer described the 1994 National Conference as a "techno-tent revival"; another as a "charismatic camp meeting experience ... [resembling] a cross between a Bill Gothard Seminar and a Billy Graham Crusade"; another as "part tent revival, part mass male bonding ritual"; and another as a stadium show that is the "time-tested snake oil of tent revivalism -- contrived emotion, a fervent push for here-and-now decision, dumbed down doctrine, and the elision of denominational differences.")
- Promise Keepers held thirteen, 2-day (Friday-Saturday) stadium conferences in 13 major U.S. cities in 1995; the first was in late-April in Detroit's Silverdome, and the last was in late-October in Dallas's Texas Stadium. Total attendance was 727,000. (There was no special 1995 "National Conference" in Boulder, Colorado, as in previous years; all conferences are now equal in status.) Special Friday morning seminars were also held in each of the 13 cities. One seminar was for pastors on how to "encourage and equip pastors for men's ministry," and the other was for "worship leaders" on how "to lead men in their church."
The theme for Promise Keepers '95 was Raise the Standard. Each of the 13 conferences had the same eight topics, with only the 45 scheduled speakers rotating topics from conference to conference. Dallas ecumenical pastor Tony Evans spoke at 11 of the 13 conferences, while Jack Hayford and Bill McCartney spoke at eight each, Howard Hendricks at six, E.V. Hill at five, and Gary Smalley at four. Some of the first-time Promise Keepers conference speakers included Juan Carlos Ortiz, the pastor of Hispanic Ministries at apostate Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral; Chuck Colson, co-author of the ecumenical accord "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" and recipient of the Progress in Religion Award; self-esteem psychologizer, Dennis Rainey; psychologizing financial guru, Ron Blue; Billy Graham's liberal son, Franklin Graham; Far East Broadcasting Company's Billy Kim, who speaks and travels with hyper-charismatic David Yonggi Cho and is vice president of the apostate Baptist World Alliance; John Wesley-White, evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and charismatic Bruce Wilkinson.
- The theme for 1996's rallies was Break Down the Walls -- Randy Phillips said, "There are centuries-old walls built of pain, hurt, neglect and abuse. Our desire is to exalt the person of Christ and power of the cross in a way that breaks down the walls that exist brother-to-brother, brother-to-sister, and church-to-church" (2/12/96, Christian News, p. 1). Promise Keepers held 22, 2-day (Friday-Saturday) stadium conferences in 22 major U.S. cities; the first in mid-April in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the last in late-October in Dallas/Ft. Worth's Texas Motor Speedway. Total attendance for the 22 conferences was more than one million men! Special Friday morning seminars were also held in each of the 22 cities for "men in church leadership ... with the goal of uniting in worship, instruction and encouragement."
Each of the 22 Break Down the Walls conferences covered the same seven topics, with only the 69 scheduled speakers rotating topics from conference to conference. Bill McCartney spoke at 13 of the meetings, while Dallas ecumenical pastor Tony Evans, Jack Hayford, John Trent, Gary Smalley, Greg Laurie, Franklin Graham, Bruce Wilkinson, and Chuck Colson spoke at three meetings each. [At the 9/96 rally in NYC, Colson, sounding like "Mother" Teresa, said, "If you trust in God it doesn't matter what religion or race you are, we all belong to each other."] Some of the first-time Promise Keepers conference speakers included John Dawson, charismatic author and International Director for Urban Missions of Youth With A Mission (YWAM); Max Lucado, popular psychologically-oriented author and Church of Christ pastor; James Robison, hyper-charismatic pastor and televangelist; Haddon Robinson, ecumenical Gordon-Conwell professor and neo-evangelical writer for Radio Bible Class; and Rick Ryan, pastor of the charismatically-oriented Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara, California.
In addition to 1996's stadium rallies, hundreds of Wake-up Calls/Rallies (also called "Men's Ministry Leadership Seminars"), "Key Men/Ambassador Training Seminars"; "Foundations for Effective Men's Ministries Seminars"; and "Building Men of Integrity Seminars" were held by PK from February-May, some of them in Catholic churches, and some in Pentecostal churches. As an indication of PK's total lack of discernment, one of the Wake-Up Call meetings was held on 2/6/96 at apostate Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
- The theme for 1997's rallies was The Making of a Godly Man. Promise Keepers had originally scheduled 20, 2-day (Friday-Saturday) stadium conferences in 20 major U.S. cities; the first in early-May in the Pontiac Silverdome, and the last in late-October in Texas Stadium. Two were cancelled due to low attendance. [PK also held a rally on 1/10/97 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Speakers included Jack Hayford, Billy Kim, and Bill McCartney.] Each of the 18 The Making of a Godly Man conferences covered the same six topics, with only the 40 scheduled speakers rotating topics from conference to conference. Total attendance for the 18 conferences was expected to be about 900,000, but was only about 630,000. Special Friday morning "Clergy Conference for Men" meetings were also scheduled in each of the 18 cities, with the theme "Becoming An Agent of Revival."
[Note: We are no longer going to make specific comments on each year's conference (as with the 1994-1997 conferences above), due in part to the waning influence of PK as a national phenomena.]
- Not only can we surmise Promise Keepers theology by examining the theology of those it invites to speak at its conferences and seminars, but also by the materials it makes available to its attendees. At the July, 1993, National Conference in Colorado, psychotherapist Dr. Robert Hicks' book The Masculine Journey: Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood was provided in hard cover to each of the 50,000 men who attended. Both the book and the accompanying Study Guide at the time carried the Promise Keepers' logo, information, and/or phone numbers. At the end of the book the statement was made: "Promise Keepers wants to provide men's materials (like this book) ..." (p. 203). Moreover, the book was advertised in the July/August 1994 premier issue of the Promise Keepers magazine New Man (as well as in subsequent issues -- New Man is now controlled by Charisma's Stephen Strang), as well as in Charisma magazine. Thus, it was reasonable to assume that Hicks' teachings were representative of the Promise Keepers' doctrine of manhood. [In 10/94, Promise Keepers first began to make available a seven page statement that was highly supportive of Hicks' teachings; see the end of this section and the 10/94 revised edition of PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries' 44-page booklet, Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy, for an analysis of this statement. As of early-1996, Promise Keepers no longer sells The Masculine Journey at conferences or through its catalogs, and when inquiries are made of PK, it no longer tries to defend the book and the study guide. Nevertheless, PK continues to refer to Hicks' theology as "orthodox." See clarifying statement at the end of this section.]
Hicks claims that his book will help identify the landmarks to watch out for along one's "masculine journey," "help discover where you are in the journey, how to grow comfortable with your unique identity, how to move closer to God, and how to experience genuine camaraderie with other men." To the contrary, we contend that Hicks' efforts are nothing more than the same old psychoheresy (Freudian and Jungian, in Hicks' case), wrapped in bad exegesis and a convoluted, psychologically-biased interpretation of Biblical language.
Hicks looks at the six Hebrew words translated as "man" or "male" in the Hebrew Bible and concludes that each of these words reflects a different stage or stop on "the masculine journey" to manhood. (Hicks claims he learned these words at seminary.) He claims that the Hebrew word zakar "depicts man as a phallic being. Men have an innate sexual force which sometimes gets denied, denigrated or perverted. ... gibbor ... means to be a warrior. ... Sometimes the warrior ends up being wounded. ... enosh describes man in his woundedness, weakness, and frailty. Men today have been wounded by abusive or absent fathers; by domineering mothers or teachers; by layoffs; by failure, alcohol and divorce. ... many men are bleeding to death on the inside. ... zaken ... elder [mentor/sage]. This is the man the Bible presents as connected to all of life, reconciling his past conflicts and making significant contributions to his community and culture. ... The zaken time of life is the destination of the male journey and should be sought after and celebrated" (Spring/Summer 1993, Men of Action). Hicks also claims that the word àdam speaks of man created as a "noble savage"; this apparently comes from humanistic anthropologist Margaret Mead's romantic idea that uncivilized people have a natural purity because they have not yet been corrupted by society. Hicks also claims that Ìsh "reflects man as a ruler of his own soul, being independent of outside considerations." (Reported in the Jul/Aug and Sep/Oct issues (1994) of PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter.)
Therefore, Hicks' six stages to manhood, in order, are (1) creational male (àdam); (2) phallic male (zakar); (3) warrior (gibbor); (4) wounded male (enosh); (5) native man (Ìsh); and (6) the sage (zaken). Following are some lowlights from The Masculine Journey and/or the accompanying Study Guide: (All emphases added.)
(a) In chapter after chapter, subjective insights into manhood are offered through quotes by a host of secular authors with a psychological or New Age bent. These include psycho-occultist Carl Jung, inner-healing therapist Leanne Payne, transpersonal New Age psychiatrist and occultist/spiritualist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, and psychologist Sam Keen. (Keen is a former theologian in residence at Esalen, the New Age/Eastern mystical therapeutic center south of San Francisco. Keen's books feature vicious diatribes against Biblical Christianity.) [4/94, The Berean Call] One can also question Hicks concerning his lead-in quote to Chapter One from former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: "The longest journey is the journey inwards of him who has chosen his destiny" (pure New Age); and to Chapter Two from evolutionist Charles Darwin: "Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."
(b) In Hicks' discussion of man's (emotionally) wounded stage (enosh), he confuses sins and wounds: "In order for men to discover what manhood is all about, they must descend into the deep places of their own souls and find their accumulated grief. ... I am convinced many men in our society today are lashing out at women, at society, at bosses, even at God -- all because they do not understand the wounding experience. ... The story of Jacob ... illustrates a young man having been severely wounded by a dysfunctional family system" (pp. 115-117). In addition, Hicks teaches that David was a "manic-depressive" whose Psalms were the "musings" of a disordered mind (p. 114). [Wouldn't the Holy Spirit would be impressed with such a statement! -- You have to be totally indoctrinated by inner healing psychobabble to derive even a jot of such nonsense from the Bible (4/94, The Berean Call). This also shows Hicks' low view of Scripture.]
(c) Hicks claims that what keeps men moving along this journey is having some other male mentors in their lives and seeing Jesus as the primary voice of God in each stage. "Jesus ... was the second Adam ... was very much human ... was also very much zakar, phallic. ... I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men" (pp. 180-181). [This seems to be either the result of Freudian brainwashing or hanging out in locker rooms. Either way, it's blasphemous (4/94, The Berean Call).]
(d) More blasphemy -- the movie The Last Temptation of Christ is referred to in a positive light! Claiming that Jesus is a "phallic male," Hicks says Jesus "may have thought about it as the movie ... portrays" (p. 181) -- referring to Jesus thinking about having sexual relations with a woman! But doesn't Hicks' suggestion make Jesus guilty of the sin of lust, thereby embracing the movie's blasphemy? In fact, the movie portrayed graphic sexual desire, not merely temptation. 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 (Media Spotlight, 11/94 Special Report on Promise Keepers, p. 6). Hicks even justifies gay men being Christians by claiming that Jesus was personally tempted with homosexuality (p. 181)! (Has not Hicks read Romans 1:18ff.?)
(e) In the book's accompanying Study Guide, Section Three, "Exploring the Issues with Other Men" (p. 33), the following statement is made: "Our culture has presented many initiation rites, or passages to manhood, that are associated with the phallus [penis]. Which ones have you experienced? Do you have a story to share with other men about one such event?" He then lists such supposedly debilitating "phallus" experiences as potty training and bed-wetting, pubic hair development, pornography, first date, wedding night, and conceiving one's first child.
[Why do Christians need to talk about these things? Why so much emphasis on the penis? Freudian psychology is based upon genitalia and the discussion of these matters, but the Bible condemns such discussions (Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:8; Phil. 4:8,9). If we are dead to sin (Col. 3:1-3), should these questions even be allowed in church? For example: What experience with pornography and the male sexual organ could be discussed without the potential for stirring sinful thoughts? And what experience about one's wedding night would be permissible to discuss with other men? Does not one's body now belong to his wife? Is not the marriage bed sacred? How ungodly to discuss such intimacy with anyone else but her!]
(f) Hicks doesn't stop here, but whines, "If only the church had alternative initiation rites to the ones offered above. What creative alternative celebrations can you think of?" (p. 33). [How can this be? Again, this is not possible without sin.]
(g) The majority of the book keeps referring back to the phallus. The first 70 pages do so clearly, and so does the last chapter, "A New Male Journey." For example, Hicks says that "The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication" (p. 51), and that all men have a "deep compulsion to worship with our phallus" (p. 56). Hicks discusses the phallic stage -- "Possessing a penis places unique requirements upon men before God in how they are to worship Him. We are called to worship God as phallic kinds of guys, not as some sort of androgynous, neutered non-males, or the feminized males so popular in many feminist-enlightened churches" (p. 51). Hicks' "phallus" phraseology is clearly Freudian and brings forth images of Greek paganism rather than Biblical manhood (Jul/Aug 1994, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter).
(h) Hicks further discusses the matter of initiation, bemoaning the absence of ceremonial initiation rites for adolescent males. He wishes there was "some way we could make more ceremonial the first rich awareness of our mortality and utter sinfulness." He continues, "I'm sure many would balk at my thought of celebrating the experience of sin. I'm not sure how we could do it. But I do know we need to do it." To defend (rationalize) his point, he talks about how we condemn our teens when "... they have their first experience with the police, or their first drunk, or their first experience with sex or drugs ..." He says we could look upon any of these "... as a teachable moment and a rite of passage. ..." Then he purposes that "true elders could come forward and confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being human." Hicks closes the paragraph by saying, "Then they could move on to the all-important issues of forgiveness and restoration ..." (p. 177). Unbelievable!
On what does Hicks base his teaching? Not the Bible, but rather his own personal experience of what it means to be a man -- his arbitrary stages of manhood are developed in order to accommodate his own personal experience and subjective psychological notions. By giving Biblical labels to these stages and mixing in some Biblical language, Hicks deceives the undiscerning into believing the Bible validates everything he says about manhood. Yet Hicks follows the predictable pattern of the psychological integrationist. He takes a psychological theory, believes it to be valid under the guise of "all truth is God's truth," and then considers what the Bible might add. His teaching originates from the opinions of godless men and the Bible is bent to conform. Since Hicks' book is the official guide for "the masculine journey," it is reasonable to assume that Promise Keepers' mentoring will utilize Hicks' stages of manhood, his secular psychology, his deceitful descriptions, and his mixed methods of maneuvering men along (Jul/Aug & Sept/Oct 1994, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter).
Sadly, attendees at the 1993 Promise Keepers National Men's Conference were encouraged in a post-conference follow-up letter to purchase The Masculine Journey Study Guide and to form Masculine Journey study groups (4/94, The Berean Call). In fact, Promise Keepers media director Steve Chavis says, "All our success here [regarding PK in general] is contingent upon men taking part in small groups when they return home" (2/6/95, Christianity Today, p. 28).
[For further details of the psychotherapeutic encounter group format incorporated in the Masculine Journey Study Guide, see Sarah H. Leslie's article in the 1/95, The Christian Conscience: "Promise Keepers: 'Encountering' Guys at Risk," pp. 14-18.]
[See the Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, and Nov/Dec 1994 issues of the PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter for further detailed analysis of Hicks' book and of Promise Keepers' official response to those questioning Promise Keepers' support of Hicks' book. PAL also has available for $3.00 a 44-page booklet titled Promise Keepers and PsychoHeresy, or for $10.00, the 44-page booklet along with a two-tape message set and the previously cited 16-page Special Report from Media Spotlight (PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110).]
- In a seven-page fax received from Promise Keepers (PK) in 10/94,
2/95, 9/95, and again in 4/96, Promise Keepers details its official support for
Robert Hicks and The Masculine Journey. (This fax was being sent to
anyone who protested PK's use of The Masculine Journey.) PK states that
they originally decided to officially sponsor Hicks' book and Study Guide
because, in their analysis, "What we discovered was a biblically-centered,
frank, and honest account of a man's journey with God. We were convinced
that it would help men pursue Jesus Christ ... it would be a tool that
challenged men to grow in Christ likeness ..." PK claims that "Dr.
Hicks is clearly choosing God's Word to describe maleness." PK acknowledged
that humanistic ideas clearly conflict with Christian values and contradict
Biblical teaching, "But those are not the values nor the teachings
we find in the writings of Dr. Hicks, Dr. James Dobson, Gary Smalley, Dr. John
Trent, and Dr. Gary Oliver." Moreover, PK went to great length to
rationalize the sexual explicitness in the book, and concluded that the problem
with The Masculine Journey is not in its content, but "... in the
way that the book is read."[!!] [Gary Smalley, John Trent, James Dobson,
Chuck Swindoll, Jack Hayford, Gary Oliver, Robert Hicks, and many others are in
the forefront of Promise Keepers speakers and writers. Their seduction by the
most ungodly aspects of psychology has seriously tainted their understanding of
God's Word and even of the person of Jesus Christ Himself. This, if nothing
else, should raise red flags of danger for anyone who might feel attracted to
[Note on PK's Promotion of The Masculine Journey: The following is excerpted and/or adapted from the Psychoheresy Awareness Letter, July-August 1996:
Shortly after our article "Promise Keepers Still Endorses The Masculine Journey went to press in 3/96, they replaced the seven-page support letter with a brief statement, which said: "Promise Keepers no longer distributes the book The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks, published in 1993 by NavPress." After admitting that Promise Keepers distributed (gave) the book to every man that attended the 1993 conference, the rest of that statement simply talked about Promise Keepers rather than about The Masculine Journey. No warning, apology, or repudiation of the book could be seen.
As of 6/17/96, Promise Keepers has begun to supply yet another position statement regarding The Masculine Journey. The current statement says: "Several passages in The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks (1993, NavPress) could be understood in more than one way. Some of the content of the book has unfortunately lent itself to a wide range of interpretations and responses involving theological issues which Promise Keepers does not feel called to resolve." The statement continues to say that they don't want these unforeseen controversies to detract from the focus of Promise Keepers. After again saying that they no longer distribute the book, they state: "At the same time, we believe Mr. Hicks' core theology is consistent with orthodox evangelical Christianity, and that The Masculine Journey was a forthright attempt on his part to deal with male issues from a biblical context." (Emphasis added.)
Sadly, the organization only seems to be trying to avoid further controversy over the book. There is still no hint of warning, apology, or repudiation. Any fair reader of Promise Keepers' present statement on The Masculine Journey would have to conclude that Promise Keepers still supports The Masculine Journey! The fact that leaders of Promise Keepers were involved in the development of the book, identified it as a Promise Keepers book, and gave a copy to every man who attended the 1993 conference reveals the psychological foundations of the movement. Until Promise Keepers makes a definitive statement confessing the error of being involved in the development of the book The Masculine Journey, as well as of promoting and distributing it, they must be held culpable.] [Back to Text]
- One thing that sounds so worthwhile is Promise Keepers attempt to stress strong male leadership in the local church. But it seems as if Promise Keepers problem is not so much with female leadership per se as it is with 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 Promise Keepers writer says (Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, p. 142). What PK clearly seems to be expressing is a desire not for men to take absolute leadership (as the Bible teaches), but to begin to share in the leadership now held by women.
If Promise Keepers were to take the Biblical position as stated by the apostle Paul, they would lose some popularity, because they would no longer receive the unbridled endorsement of wives that they now receive. (Women say they want a strong man to follow, but not too strong. Certainly they don't want a man whose strength or determination for God might interfere with the wife's psychological "needs" being met.) Promise Keepers somehow recognizes this, and thus the macho posturing, all the while being very careful not to offend the ladies who really remain in control. Thus, too, the popularity of Gary Smalley and his ilk who emasculate men while claiming great success in achieving marital harmony. Women love Smalley because he focuses men's attention NOT on how to please God, but how to please their wives, i.e., "meet their needs." Smalley even teaches wives how to manipulate their husbands to get what they want. Gary Smalley's books and seminars are probably the most dangerous to true masculinity on the market today, yet Promise Keepers promotes him widely. (Media Spotlight, 11/94 Special Report on Promise Keepers, p. 8.) [The 6/95 Houston PK rally held in the Astrodome serves as a good indication of the behind-the-scenes involvement of women in Promise Keepers. Of the 3,000 volunteers, about two-thirds were women. Prior to the conference, these 2,000 or so women took part in anointing each chair in the Astrodome with oil and then prayed over them. (Reported in the 6/18/95, Houston Chronicle, p. 4G).]
- Promise Keepers also has established an inclusivistic, anti-Biblical position on homosexuality. The following was taken from a Promise Keepers' 12/8/93 fax, titled simply, "Promise Keepers Statement":
"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."
What is so "complex" about the "issue" (read "sin") of homosexuality? God says this perversion is His judgment for the sins of rejecting and rebelling against Him, and He condemns it throughout Scripture (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; Jude 7). But then, sin is always a "polarizing issue" to those who live in the flesh rather than by the Spirit. Also, homosexuality is not the result of environment and genetics (cf. Rom. 1:18-32)! Though Promise Keepers acknowledges homosexuality as a sin in some of their literature, by claiming it can be understood only in the confines of humanistic psychology and genetic research, rather than in what God says, they actually promote homosexuality. Promise Keepers spokesman Steve Chavis concurs with the fax statement -- he says that homosexuals "will find a message not of condemnation but of compassion," in PK's ministry (6/27/95, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. B10). Rather than including and welcoming the homosexuals, Promise Keepers should be preaching the Gospel of Christ to them, which is repentance for their sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. Instead, Promise Keepers is apparently convinced that a person can be content to remain an unrepentant homosexual and still be a genuine child of God. But God's Word is clear -- no unrepentant homosexual will inherent the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Further, the apostle Paul commands that those who profess Christ and yet openly practice sin should be removed from fellowship (1 Cor. 5:9-11), not "tolerated." [A Promise Keeper can evidently be a committed abortionist also! An interview with Bill McCartney published in the 6/18/95 Houston Chronicle quotes McCartney as saying that a Promise Keeper can be pro-choice because, "That's an individual preference. We would not try to direct or influence that. ... We welcome everyone; no one is excluded."]
Robert Hicks, in his book heavily promoted by Promise Keepers, espoused a similar "sensitive" approach to the sin of homosexuality (The Masculine Journey, pp. 133-134). This "tolerant" position on homosexuality is found in many of the materials sponsored by Promise Keepers. While calling for strong male leadership in the churches, Promise Keepers has whimped-out on an "issue" 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" and judgmental (Media Spotlight, 11/94 Special Report on Promise Keepers, p. 6).
- Promise Keepers views Jesus as "the non-confrontive encourager." Geoff Gorsuch, in the PK manual Brothers! Calling Men into Vital Relationships, presents a distorted view of Christ. For example, he says, "Jesus didn't view men as losers. He saw them as lost" (p. 49). The Christ of Promise Keepers seems to prefer looking at men in an inoffensive and positive manner -- mankind is not to be thought of in a demeaning term such as "loser," but as individuals who just need a little help to find their way. The truth is that all men are losers and lost. A loser is one who does not triumph. Since no man can by himself overcome sin, much less its penalty, he cannot be said to be just neutrally "lost": He is a loser as well. Apart from God's grace we will all remain desperate losers condemned and under the curse of sin. In man-to-man associations, some are winners and some are losers. But in man-to-God relationships, every man is a loser of the worst sort. Our victory can only come through the Holy Spirit as the merits of Christ's finished work on the cross are applied. (Excerpted and/or adapted from the 4/95 O Timothy, "PROMISE KEEPERS: Should Fundamentalists Get Involved?," pp. 11-12).
- Also of great concern is Promise Keepers close association and fellowship with those in the charismatic movement. (This concern arises because the "common experience" gained through charismaticism has typically allowed for the setting aside of doctrinal differences, and has, thereby, more easily facilitated an unbiblical unity, i.e., ecumenism.) As mentioned earlier in this report, not only have charismatics E.V. Hill and Jack Hayford regularly spoken at the Promise Keepers Men's Conferences, but Bill McCartney's local Vineyard Christian Fellowship pastor and ex-convict/ex-drug addict, James Ryle, is on the Board of Directors of Promise Keepers. (He is, also, now a regular speaker at PK meetings, and has left the pastorate for a full time speaking/conference ministry.) Ryle's position of leadership in Promise Keepers is most disconcerting because of his clear association with "signs & wonders," hyper-charismatic, self-proclaimed "prophet" John Wimber, the (now deceased) co-founder of the Vineyard Movement.
Ryle, like Wimber, declares himself to be a modern prophet, and thus, claims to have many of the same "revelatory" powers claimed by Wimber. For example, at an 11/90 Vineyard Harvest Conference in Denver, Ryle asserted that God instructed him to reveal to the church that both the Beatles and their music were the result of a special anointing of the Holy Spirit, and that God was looking for others upon whom to place that anointing, supposedly to bring about a worldwide revival through music. Ryle said:
"The Lord has appointed me as a lookout and shown me some things that I want to show you ... The Lord spoke to me and said, 'What you saw in the Beatles -- the gifting and the sound that they had -- was from Me. ... It was My purpose to bring forth through music a worldwide revival that would usher in the move of My Spirit in bringing men and women to Christ. ...'"
In the same manner, Ryle claimed that God gave him a vision of a Beatles' concert where the audience, instead of screaming the names of the Beatles, were this time "screaming the Name -- Jesus." Such a prophecy, that millions will be saved through a reintroduction of the "anointed music" (and demonic, Hinduistic philosophies) originally "given" through the Beatles, could not possibly have been from the Holy Spirit! Instead, Ryle's statements clearly reveal the Satanic delusions under which he and other so-called modern prophets are "ministering" (Jan-Feb '91, Foundation). One should be leery of any "prophet" who discerns the demonic as anointed.
[Ryle preached a similar sermon at his Boulder Valley Vineyard Church on
7/1/90, entitled "Sons of Thunder." In that sermon, Ryle alleges that
God is about to anoint Christian musicians with the same "anointing that
was originally given to the Beatles." He said God told him in
a dream that, "I called those four lads from Liverpool to myself. There was
a call from God on their life; they were gifted by My hand; and it was I who
anointed them, for I had a purpose, and the purpose was to usher in the
charismatic renewal with musical revival around the world." Ryle goes on to
say that God told him He lifted the Beatles anointing in 1970 and
has held it in His hand since, but that He is about to release it again in the
church. (Reported in the 2/96, The Christian Conscience, p. 20.) In other
words, Ryle says the Beatles rebelled against God's purpose, so the idea had to
be sacked! Apparently God's will was thwarted by the Beatles and God has yet to
come up with plan "B"!]
More on Ryle's charismaticism -- from a Dreams and Visions Prophetic Conference brochure (8/4/94-8/6/94), announcing James Ryle as a speaker:
"After a traumatic childhood, years of neglect in an orphanage, and imprisonment in the Texas State Penitentiary, God filled James Ryle with love, identity, and purpose. He began preaching in 1972, exhibiting a great gift for communicating the Word of God in relevant, revealing, and redemptive ways. James travels extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, advancing the church through prophetic preaching and conference teaching. James is the author of the very popular book The Hippo in the Garden (Creation House:1993). In 1989 it was prophesied that James would be a 'seer' to the body of Christ. That same year, he had a dream where he saw a hippo in the garden. After seeking God for the interpretation, James says the Lord revealed that the hippo represents a new prophetic movement that will sweep the church and impact the world. According to James, the new movement will appear as out-of-place amid the status quo as a hippo walking in an English garden. James has also written an article about dreams and visions in the 8/93 Charisma: 'Hearing God's Voice in Living Color.'"
In a 1995 book (with foreword by Bill McCartney), A Dream Come True: A Biblical Look at How God Speaks Through Dreams and Visions, Ryle again adds to God's written Word his own subjective personal revelations, visions, words of prophecy, and dreams. Ryle invites men to begin analyzing their dreams, and concludes the book by inviting the reader to ask the Lord for a vision of Jesus as "God has given each one of us what I call vision hunger -- an appetite for revelation from God, an inner need for visual soul stimulation" (p. 228). As Ryle proclaimed in The Hippo in the Garden, to him "The Bible is not an end in itself, rather, it is the God-given means to an end" (p. 74). What Ryle and others in the Vineyard, and, hence, the Vineyard-spawned Promise Keepers, are teaching is that God's written Word should be viewed through the lens of one's personal, spiritual experiences, dreams, and visions as opposed to rightly asserting that one's personal spiritual experiences ought to be viewed through the lens of God's written Word. (Reported in the 2/96, The Christian Conscience, pp. 21, 26. See also Carl Widrig Jr.'s article in the 5/96, The Christian Conscience, "Is God Saying What James Ryle is Saying," pp. 46-47)
- Like James Ryle, Bill McCartney also claims direct revelation for God. On a "PK This Week" radio program (9/28/96), McCartney speaking at the 1995 Oakland PK Conference, in a message titled, "The Power of a Promise Kept," said that God told him, "If men of color don't come to PK, then I'm not coming either." McCartney said that some men sent him mail challenging him that what he said "wasn't scripturally sound -- what right do you have to get up and say this?" McCartney's answer: "But I knew in my heart I had heard that [from God] so I stood by it." Later he says that at the PK Portland meeting: "The Holy Spirit of God came on me like you can't believe and validated me and said, 'Yes, you have been speaking my heart. Keep speaking what I have put on your heart.'"
- The Vineyard influence in Promise Keepers is most disconcerting. As mentioned earlier, McCartney, Phillips, and Ryle were all affiliated with Vineyard churches. Paul Cain, one of the original Vineyard "prophets," claims that PK is the fulfillment of a divine dream he received when he was 19 years old (8/30/95 message at Christ Chapel, Florence, AL). The Vineyard movement believes that God is giving new revelation today and that the miraculous signs of the early church should be normative for today.
The phenomenon known as "Holy Laughter" revivals began in a
Vineyard church in Canada in January of 1994. It became known as the
"Toronto Blessing" during South African Evangelist Rodney
Howard-Browne's meetings there in October of 1994. When people were "slain
in the Spirit," they began to roll on the floor and laugh hysterically,
sometimes for hours. (These revivals now even include barking like dogs and
making other animal noises as evidence of the working of the Holy Spirit.) A
9/94 Charisma magazine article reports that John Wimber's Vineyard
churches in the U.S. had been largely swept up by the strange incidents. Would
it be surprising to see this "advanced" (demonic) form of charismania
show up in the near future in one of Promise Keepers stadium rallies? Charisma
is even now referring to Promise Keepers as the "Boulder Blessing"
(5/95, Charisma). (For more on the laughing phenomena, see the 1995 Media
Spotlight 16-page Special Report titled "Holy
Laughter: Rodney Howard-Browne and the Toronto Blessing.")
- I think we can only expect to see more of this evil, ecumenical, hyper-charismatic influence in future Promise Keepers' conferences, materials, etc. For example, Charisma magazine is the official voice of the charismatic movement. (Charisma has supported the work of such leading charismatics as Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jim and Tammy Bakker. It has endorsed Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other hyper-charismatics who have denied such fundamental doctrines as the deity of Christ and the Trinity. It has also endorsed the "Holy Laughter" phenomena.) Charisma's founding editor, Stephen Strang (Strang Communications Company), entered into a partnership with Promise Keepers in early 1994 to publish a bimonthly men's magazine titled New Man: For Men of Integrity. (Initial 5/94 premier issue press-run was 225,000, and was distributed free to attendees at the first six 1994 PK conferences; as of 4/97, the publisher reports a paid circulation of over 330,000, more than double that of Christianity Today, the leading "evangelical" magazine in America.) Strang says:
"This high-quality magazine will feature practical articles designed to encourage and equip its readers to become godly men. It will be a lively publication for men of the '90s, appealing to their interests, such as sports, hobbies and health. Like Promise Keepers, the magazine will cross ethnic and denominational boundaries to unite men in Jesus Christ -- a magazine for any man who loves Jesus and is born of the Spirit -- charismatic, evangelical, Protestant or Catholic" (4/94, Charisma).
The editorial advisory board of New Man includes reconstructionist Wellington Boone and hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford. New Man also publishes articles, advice, and interviews from psychologizers Gary Smalley, Tony Evans, Larry Burkett, Howard Hendricks, Jack Hayford, Bill McCartney, Gary Oliver, Luis Palau, James Dobson, Ken Canfield, and Bill Bright. [In April of 1997, New Man became an independent publication, but remained part of Strang's publishing conglomerate.]
- The premier issue of New Man featured a profile on Bill McCartney (pp. 29-37). The story reports that before dawn most days, the "emotionally challenged" McCartney (i.e., "I'm just learning to love and be loved.") and his wife read together a few pages from psychologizer Gary Oliver's book Real Men Have Feelings Too. McCartney would then go to his office overlooking Colorado's Folsom Stadium. Upon arrival, he would make sure to "pray over each chair, 'invoking the Spirit of the Living God' on any fixtures in reach" of anyone who might enter that day. McCartney thinks this charismatic ritual "honors God and invites His Spirit here." McCartney also tells of his consecrating the Colorado football program "to the Lordship of Jesus Christ," and that by God's grace, Colorado then won a national championship! This charismatic nonsense would be humorous were it not for its tragic consequences.
[McCartney resigned his $350,000-a-year head football coaching job in January of 1995, in order to spend more time with his family and working with Promise Keepers. It remains a mystery what qualifies this man to lead a men's movement. He readily admits that for decades he failed his wife and family in the worst possible ways. Moreover, to our knowledge, he was "the only major college football coach in America with two illegitimate grandchildren sired by two different players upon his only daughter" (1/96, GQ magazine, p. 111).]
- The 12/13/97 World magazine says: "PK founder Bill McCartney has written a disturbing book -- disturbing for what it leaves out." Sold Out, supposedly an autobiography about the ups and downs of his marriage, omits any mention of his adulterous affair, or that his daughter got pregnant twice out of wedlock by two different members of his football team. He did mention though that his wife four years ago was bulimic and suicidal and that he had been an alcoholic [drunkard]. (Source: 1/1/98, Calvary Contender.)
- Not to be left out of the "rally crowd," a number of look-alike PK organizations for women have been created (the total attendance at all look-alike events for 1998 were expected to top 600,000, which makes the women's groups larger than PK itself). The women's groups "are a combination of revival meeting and spiritual pep rally ... [having] much in common with secular self-improvement and motivational seminars: Disorders are the order of the day, and victimhood almost always precedes victor" (4/6/98, Christianity Today):
(a) "Heritage Keepers" conducted its first conference 8/10/96 in Wichita, Kansas, with 8,000 registration requests for only 3,000 available seats. "Heritage Keepers is designed to teach a woman how to be godly to her family, God, and community," says pastor Bob Beckler, who created it with his wife Lori. Speakers were John Trent, a frequent speaker on the PK circuit and author of How to Handle Your Promise Keeper [does not this title speak volumes about the manipulative focus of PK and why PK receives such overwhelming support from the wives of PK-ers!] along with psychological counselor Marge Caldwell and four-temperaments guru Florence Littauer.
(b) Deborah Tyler of Morristown, Tennessee, organized four "Keys for Abundant Living: A Promise Keepers Counterpart" conferences in 1996. Meetings were held in Dallas, Birmingham, Nashville, and Little Rock, each drawing about 1,000 women, with speakers including Anne Graham Lotz, Gloria Gaither, and Luci Swindoll. Conferences were planned for seven Southern cities in 1997. They are part of Tyler's Renaissance Ministries, designed "to provide opportunities for women to be challenged, inspired, and encouraged and to lead each woman to a personal commitment to God's Word as the ultimate authority for successful living."
(c) One of the most ambitious undertakings may be that of "Chosen Women: Daughters of the King." This new Pasadena, California-based group (founded by Susan Kimes, in conjunction with Calvary Church in Santa Ana, California, where she has held women's conferences since 1985) had hoped to attract 80,000 women to the Rose Bowl May 16-17, 1997, with speakers such as Ruth Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Elisabeth Elliot, Bunny Wilson, and Jill Briscoe. Actually, 30,000 attended, which is still the largest women-only stadium rally since the Promise Keepers men's movement began. Women of all ages sang, danced, did the wave, blew bubbles, batted beach balls, prayed, and applauded the all-female slate of speakers. Attendees paid between $56 and $71 in registration fees for the experience (6/16/97, Christianity Today).
(d) In 1997, "Women of Faith: Joyful Journey" meetings nationwide drew about 197,000 women at 15 conferences organized by Women of Faith (up from 38,000 in 1996). (For 1998, Women of Faith's leadership was projecting double that total for 29 conferences under the theme "Bring Back the Joy.") They are sponsored by Minirth-Meier New Life Clinics, the Freudian "mental health" clinics in Richardson, Texas ("It was time for the clinics to do something for women in America [to] help them celebrate life and God's grace," says New Life's Stephen Arterburn -- "I really believe that the idea was a gift from God." Arterburn sees Women of Faith as a good patient recruiting tool for psychological counseling: "The clinics always did conferences dealing with problems, and the response was underwhelming." He says they revised the Women of Faith conference focus "to see how many more people we could reach by celebrating what is good about life." "At Women of Faith events, New Life and their Remuda clinics (which specialize in eating disorders) are on hand to provide information about their counseling services."). Several speakers on the Women of Faith circuit are best known as humor writers, including Patsy Clairmont, Barbara Johnson, and Luci Swindoll. Zondervan is producing a Women of Faith Bible and study guides; Integrity Music is planning worship music products; and Campus Crusade's Women Today International will provide follow-up materials. (Reported in the 3/3/97 & 4/6/98 issues of Christianity Today.)
(e) Other groups that have sprung up in recent years include "Aspiring Women" of Nashville, Tennessee; "Suitable Helpers" of Wheat Ridge, Colorado; "Promise Reapers" of Houston; "A Promise Kept" of Los Angeles; and "Praise Keepers" of Eldon, Missouri [the latter's co-founder Donna Henley says: "Women's ministries are always bigger than the men. This will be bigger than the men's" [she has proved to be correct] (3/1/97, Calvary Contender)].
(f) A Focus on the Family sponsored one-day event in Nashville on 9/21/97 drew 19,600 women from 47 states and Canada (with a 20,000 wait-list). James Dobson was the only male speaker at the "Renewing the Heart" conference. Five more conferences are scheduled for 1998, at $48 per attendee.
- There are also PK off-shoots targeting other groups. One such group is "Young Warriors," a PK program targeting teens. The first program was held in 9/96 in Dallas, and featured a day of rock concerts, speakers, and games. The concerts included Christafari, Sixpence None the Richer, Prayer Chain, The Walter Eugenes, E-Ric, Judah, Audio Adrenaline, and others including local bands. The speakers included Miles McPherson, Jacob Aranza, and local youth pastors. Games included Sumu Wrestling, Velcro Wall, Bungee Run, Just, and more. Tickets were $20. Dallas YOUNG WARRIORS was sponsored by: Z Music Television, World Vision, CCM Magazine, and others.
- The music at PK rallies has usually been typical "Christian" Contemporary Music (CCM). Look for rap music to begin to take over. Mike De'Vine, a rapper and former member of the vile rap group "2 Live Crew" (De'Vine says he left the group in 1989 after growing sick of the lifestyle) hooked up with PK to provide "music" at its 1996 stadium rallies (both writing and performing). De'Vine claims to have "turned to Christ and a new rap message, recording five albums on his own label. ... [He] believes he's on the cusp of breaking into the big time, and he's looking to PK as a pulpit." PK is also interested in De'Vine and his rap music to help bolster PK's new youth program. De'Vine says: "That's what the aim is, to blow up positive rap music, man. We're going to bust it up with Promise Keepers. We'll be doing the 2 Live Crew thing all over again -- only this time it will be positive." (Reported in the 1/26/96, Rocky Mountain News, "Ex-2 Live Crew member on a divine mission," pp. 17D & 19D).
- Promise Keepers has also gotten into the Study Bible business. PK and Zondervan have entered into a partnership to create a Promise Keepers Study Bible, that will contain notes and guides specifically designed for men who attend PK conferences. This is PK's second such venture with Zondervan, the world's largest Bible publisher. Zondervan produced 200,000 Next Step kits for sale at the 1995 conferences -- a multimedia kit containing a book, a video, and an audio cassette "to help men take the next step in their Christian walk" (7/31/95, Christian News, p. 14).
- Theistic evolution is the unbiblical belief that God was involved in the evolutionary process, originally creating lower life forms, then letting them evolve by random chance (or continuing to create various species over millions of years), eventually infusing evolved man with a soul. PK's official magazine at the time, New Man, endorsed theistic evolution and argued that whether or not God used evolution to bring man into existence is of little importance (New Man, Jul-Aug, 1996, p. 54; as reported in the 3/97, The Berean Call).
Contrary to PK's belief, the manner in which man came into existence is of critical importance! If the earth is millions or billions of years old, with death thereby occurring prior to Adam's sin, then the Biblical doctrines of sin and salvation are moot? If death and bloodshed preceded Adam's rebellion against God, then what are "the wages of sin" and how did the entrance of sin change things? And if death preceded sin, then death is not the penalty for sin, and Christ's death on the cross accomplished nothing! Since such evolutionary and old-earth thinking is totally incompatible with the work of Christ, should it not be a requirement that a so-called "Christian" ministry believe in literal creationism as taught in the Bible?
- To combat the decline in masculine virtue, our humanistic society offers a cure far worse than the disease itself. A rash of neo-pagan books and seminars attempts to get men in touch with their buried masculinity. And thousands of men flock to rustic retreats to don tribal masks and beat drums in hopes of forcing their hidden "wildman" to emerge (4/94, Charisma). But is there really much difference here from the "Christianized" version emerging through McCartney's Promise Keepers meetings (with Promise Keepers' endorsement of Robert Hicks' six stages of manhood), Ed Cole's Christian Men's Network, Ken Canfield's National Center for Fathering, Gene Goetz's Maximum Man conferences, and other such charismatic and psychoheretical attempts at "celebrating Biblical manhood"? (PK is also spawning dozens of other parachurch groups such as Dad's University, Career Impact Ministries, Business Life Management, Men Reaching Men, and Fathers and Brothers.) Even Promise Keepers supporters such as Strang and Charisma magazine appear to have inadvertently recognized the similarity:
"At times, July's meeting [1993 National Men's Conference in Boulder] resembled a pep rally with Jesus cheers. 'Hit him! Hit him! Hit him!' men chanted, as pastor E.V. Hill of Los Angeles challenged them to defeat the devil in their lives" (4/94 Charisma).
Robert Hicks, when discussing his warrior stage in the previously referred to book, The Masculine Journey, even quotes favorably from Patrick Arnold's book, Wildmen, Warriors and Kings: Masculine Spirituality and the Bible. Arnold's book is not based on Scripture, but on the Jungian collective unconscious, Jungian archetypes, and other aspects of Jungian occult spirituality. Hicks also refers authoritatively to another men's movement author, Jungian psychoanalyst Robert Moore, from a book co-authored by Moore -- King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.
Many of the speakers at Promise Keepers conferences refer to what is called "the wounded male soul." This woundedness supposedly "springs from the cultural estrangement of boys from their fathers and the emotional repression American culture has deemed necessary for true maleness" (2/6/95, Christianity Today, p. 25). In response, the hidden "wildman/warrior" is resurrected to save the day, but this time in "Christian" garb. At the 10/94 Dallas meeting held in Texas Stadium, the men in attendance raised their hands and sang, "'Face to face, brother to brother, back to back, warrior to warrior,' as the words were flashed on the giant screens overhead" (11/10/94, The Charlotte Observer, p. 11A). Even D. James Kennedy, in a salute to Promise Keepers on his 9/18/94 television show, inadvertently (?) acknowledged that Promise Keepers is a "Christian" alternative to "the secular revolution of men leading them out into the woods and to their tom-toms ..." (In early 1995, Kennedy also taped a radio interview with Robert Hicks, in which Hicks' book The Masculine Journey was treated with great favor.)
- Promise Keepers may be a tool for those holding the Manifest Sons of God doctrines to market their beliefs to the rest of the American church. These beliefs, which are foundational to the "laughing phenomenon" associated with Rodney Howard-Browne, are now entering mainstream churches of all denominations via Promise Keepers. (Former Vineyard head (deceased) John Wimber had given his whole-hearted approval to the laughing phenomenon.) The Manifest Sons of God believe that Christ cannot incarnate in a divided body; therefore, it's crucial that the Church be united. Another term for this is "Joel's Army." Promise Keepers has been linked to this army. An article in Jewell van der Merwe's Discernment newsletter states:
"In a recent interview in response to a question as to whether the Promise Keepers could be fulfilling the prophecy in Joel of raising an army, [Pastor] James Ryle answered, "Yes. ... 300,000 men have come together so far this year under Promise Keepers. ... Never in history have 300,000 men come together except to go to war. These men are gathered for War."
Promise Keepers has incorporated key doctrines of the Manifest Sons of God into their material. The 2/95 issue of Suitable Helpers, a newsletter for women participating in Promise Keepers, expresses that believers can become Christ Incarnate: "Our Lord is calling out a great host of men ready and willing to become 'Christs' in their homes: Promise Keepers. In grand, bold sweeps, God has mustered an army." [Noticing the potential political nature of this men's movement is none other than The New Age Journal, which ran an article favorable to Promise Keepers in its 4/95 edition. The article noted the odd combination of New Age men's movement ideology (Robert Bly's pantheism) combined with the political evangelicalism of Pat Robertson.]
Promise Keepers appears to be creating a new "folk" religion. The large mass rallies, the exaltation of emotion over reason, the lack of doctrinal integrity, the taking of oaths (the seven promises), the focus on fatherland and fatherhood, and the ecumenical inclusion of aberrant esoteric doctrines bears a disconcerting similarity to an era which gave rise to one of the most dreadful armies in history. The infiltration of Manifest Sons of God doctrines into Promise Keepers (via Vineyard) combined with New Age ideologies (via Robert Bly and Robert Hicks) appears to create a new American folk theology: pantheism, the idolatry of self, the belief in a divine mandate to take the land, the superiority of a group, and the necessity of group hysteria. (Excerpted and/or adapted from "Promise Keepers: A Militant Unity?," Ed Tarkowski and Sarah Leslie, 4/95, The Christian Conscience, p. 18.)
[Is Promise Keepers going to be used to mobilize worldwide support for a bimillennial celebration of Jesus 2000th birthday Jubilee, a celebration already intertwined with the New Age movement? This appears to be the case. There was a favorable review in the Jul/Aug 1995 issue of New Man, of New Ager Jay Gary's book, The Star of 2000. Gary's self-published book advocates such a celebration (Pastor Bill Randles, 8/22/95 open letter to Bill McCartney). (See the recent Spiritual Counterfeits Project article entitled "Sign of the Times: Evangelical and New Agers Together," for a detailed exposé on Jay Gary and New Age friends.)]
- Charles Grandison Finney was an early-19th century revivalist in the Northeastern part of the United States, and a kindred spirit of John Wesley. (Wesley was steeped deeply in the writings of Roman Catholic medieval mystics, claimed to have read them avidly, and was instrumental in publishing a great number of these Roman Catholic works. This false mysticism stayed with Wesley all his life. Finney doctrinalized Wesley's "second experience" teaching.) Finney's introduction of new methods for getting converts and the orchestrating of emotion and excitement in huge revival gatherings was clearly based on his heretical understanding of being born-again. Finney writes that he repudiated all the fundamental doctrines of God's sovereignty in salvation, including the vicarious nature of the atonement of Jesus Christ, in the interests of preaching revival. Finney's purpose was solely to convince the human will and produce decisions and commitments.
Finney's "new measures" in revivalism left an indelible stamp upon Evangelicalism. Evangelism crusades, revival meetings, the altar call, the "decision" to "accept" Christ, the "prayer of faith," the use of excitement and emotion to facilitate "decisions" for Christ, and the attempt to promote the moral reformation of the culture can all be attributed to the "new measures" introduced by Finney in the 1830s. Many of the modern movements such as Church Growth, Promise Keepers, and the so-called Religious Right find their roots in Finney. Evangelicals cannot escape his influence.
The problem with Finney's influence on modern-day evangelicalism is that Finney's methods produce "results." He initiated what was called the "Second Great Awakening." Great revivals were reported in towns and cities throughout the country. Lives were reportedly changed. Moral reformations reportedly occurred. But since Finney did not preach the total corruption of the human nature and rejected the truth of justification by grace through faith alone, the basis for his "results" could not have been the Holy Spirit. Finney's results were exactly as Finney defined them -- a human dynamic.
We must, therefore, also question the multitudes who have become "men of integrity" by sharing in the emotion and excitement of Promise Keepers revivals. Is not Promise Keepers also not the work of the Holy Spirit, but rather of emotions, methods, and group dynamics orchestrated to produce decisions, commitments, and modify behavior -- in other words, a human dynamic? By employing Finney's methods, one gains Finney's results ("Assessing the Promise Keepers," 12/25/95, Christian News, pp. 1, 7-8.].
- Promise Keepers is apparently willing to give up the true treasures given by Christ for a feel-good experience with the guys. Promise Keepers and others dedicated to the Christian men's movement are unbiblically preoccupied with man himself and from man's perspective. They are at best doomed to a grace-barren, fleshly form of "godliness." Instead, the emphasis should be focusing on God Himself, getting to know Him and His way through His Word (4/94, The Berean Call, and 9/19/94, Christian News).
It is highly unlikely that an organization that waffles on doctrinal integrity will inspire men to truly be men of God. Strength of leadership honors God only when it is in compliance with God's written Word. To ignore doctrinal integrity, as Promise Keepers does, nullifies any other claims to integrity. While claiming to be an instrument to draw men closer to Jesus Christ, Promise Keepers is in reality minding earthly things. Their God may not be their belly (Phil. 3:13-21), but it certainly appears to be their loins (Media Spotlight, Vol. 16 - No. 1, "Promise Keepers Update," pp. 8,10.).
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 "techno-tent" rallies with "mob psychology" or in groups using encounter group techniques and undermining important doctrinal distinctives. Indeed, the magnitude and the extent of Promise Keepers' aberrations from orthodoxy warrant a rejection of the entire movement (Promise Keepers &PsychoHeresy, p. 29).
- A telltale sign that there is something desperately wrong with the PK movement is the favorable press given to Promise Keepers by the worldly media. Why would the world be promoting Promise Keepers when Jesus said the world would hate us as it hated Him? (Pastor Bill Randles, 8/22/95 open letter to Bill McCartney).
One worldly source that has not praised Promise Keepers is Scott Raab, writer-at-large for GQ magazine:
"There's nothing new, much less revolutionary, in what Promise Keepers is pushing, which is not really about Jesus Christ at all, but about Satan. After listening to all the speeches and the prayers [at the 9/95 Oakland, California PK conference], after reading their books and magazines, it's abundantly clear that these guys see the Archenemy everywhere, but especially in the mirror. What PK offers men finally is protection -- from themselves" (1/96, GQ magazine, pp. 129-130).
- Can two walk together except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3). It must be assumed that those who participate in the PK movement also agree with their kindred in that movement. It must also be assumed that pastors who attend PK rallies embrace the doctrine that God was once a man as do their "Mormon brethren." It must also be assumed that those pastors who send or take their men to PK meetings agree with the Pentecostal "flavor" of those meetings and wouldn't mind if those men came back home from PK speaking in tongues, rolling down the aisles, and recruiting other men to do the same. Any pastor who takes or sends his men to a PK rally is a traitor to the cause of Christ, is an unfaithful shepherd over the flock of God, and has betrayed the trust placed in him by his congregation to protect them against the wolves. (Excerpted and/or adapted from the 1/96 The Wilderness Voice, pp. 6-7).
Note fm Media Spotlight: The 7 Promiscuities (a miscellaneous mixture or mingling of persons or things) of Promise Keepers -- (1) Catholicism; (2) Mormonism; (3) Charismaticism; (4) Psychology; (5) Merchandising; (6) False Doctrine; (7) Blasphemy.
Note fm PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries: Promise Keepers Board Members and Church Affiliation:
Readers have asked us the names and church affiliations of the members of the Board of Directors of the Promise Keepers. The following names were supplied to us by Promise Keepers. The church affiliations were established by calling individual board members or secretaries to these men, or by asking one board member the church affiliation of another board member. We believe the following is accurate: [Updated for late-1997 changes.]
Dick Blair -- Vail Bible Church, Vail, CO
Ron Blue -- head of Ronald Blue & Co., a financial advisory firm
Huron Claus -- American Indian (CHIEF--Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship)
Jack Hayford -- Church on the Way (Four Square; Charismatic), Van Nuys, CA
Dr. Howard Hendricks -- Northwest Bible Church, Dallas, TX
E. Peb Jackson -- First Presbyterian (PCUSA), Colorado Springs, CO
Bill McCartney -- Vineyard Christian Fellowship (Charismatic), Longmont, CO
Dr. Jesse Miranda -- Faith Tabernacle (Charismatic), El Monte, CA
George Morrison -- Faith Bible Chapel (Charismatic), Arvada, CO
Dr. Gary Oliver -- Mission Hills Baptist (Baptist General Conference), Denver, CO
A. L. Overton -- Greenwood Community Church (Evangelical Presby.), Greenwood Village, CO
Hank Peters -- Cherry Hills Community Church (Evangelical Presby.), Cherry Hills Village, CO
Bishop Phil Porter -- All Nations Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, Denver, CO (Board chm.)
David Roadcup -- Grace Fellowship, Louiseville, CO (Board v.chm.)
James Ryle -- Vineyard Christian Fellowship (Charismatic), Longmont, CO
Alonzo E. Short, Jr. -- (Affiliation unknown at this time)
Michael T. Timmis* -- Roman Catholic Attorney and Businessman, Detroit, Michigan
[Note: PK has recently made a significant effort to dissuade observers of its Vineyard connections. James Ryle changed the name of his church to "Vinelife Community Church." At an 8/98 Oregon PK rally, Randy Phillips was identified as a member of Faith Bible Chapel in Denver. Nevertheless, since the Vineyard stigma remains, we have not changed the names of the McCartney-Ryle church affiliations.] [Back to Text]
*4/97 & 8/99 Updates: The 1997 Summer Conference brochure for the
Roman Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville said: "And you won't
want to miss Mike Timmis, a highly respected Catholic attorney and
businessman, an inspiring evangelist, and a member of Promise Keeper's Board
of Directors." In addition, in July 1998, Timmis was named chairman of
Prison Fellowship, succeeding Catholic-sympathizer Chuck Colson.
*7/97 Update: PK has now changed their Statement of Faith so as to not exclude Catholics! Section five of the Promise Keepers credo previously read: "We believe that man was created in the image of God, but because of sin, was alienated from God. That alienation can be removed only by accepting, through faith alone, God's gift of salvation, which was made possible by Christ's death." Concerned about PK's exclusionary statement in light of PK's courting of Catholics, several Catholic theologians reviewed the statement and presented their objections to Glen Wagner, PK's V.P. of National Ministries. As a result, PK revised section five to read "Only through faith, trusting in Christ alone for salvation, which was made possible by His death and resurrection, can that alienation be removed." This change suits the Roman Catholic Church just fine. Its definition of grace includes sacraments. "Grace," by Rome's definition, means Christ, by His death, has provided salvation to be distributed by the Catholic Church to those sinners who adhere to its sacraments. The New Catholic Catechism states: "The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation" (1129). Paul Edwards, Promise Keepers' vice president for advancement, explained that the statement of faith is a 'dynamic' document, and that Promise Keepers is open to change. (Mike Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor, July 20, 1997, pp. 10,11). [In the same article, McCartney was quoted as saying that full Catholic participation in PK was his intention from the start.]
Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper Update: A revised edition of this book (now in paperback) was published in early-1999. Some new material was added from new authors, as well as changes in wording in a few places, most notably being the revision of Jack Hayford's infamous statement that: "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"; the naming all of these has been removed, and, instead, says merely, "whatever your tradition ..." The Tony Evans' chapter was also gone from the revised book (he previously received a lot of heat for his comments on the roles of men and women in marriage), and the Randy Phillips introduction was also gone in exchange for a similar one (plenty of stories) from Bill McCartney. Also a significant change was the suggested reading material at the back of the book -- gone was The Masculine Journey. It is clear that PK is trying to take out of the book things that were particularly controversial.