DOCTRINAL CONFUSION OF PROMISE KEEPERS RALLY

October 28, 1997 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) -- The following is part of an eye-witness report by Brian Snider (bsnider@quicklink.net) of the "Stand in the Gap" rally in Washington, D.C. -- 'Promise Keepers' 'Stand In The Gap Rally': A Firsthand Report," Foundation magazine, September-October 1997.

More than a million men crowded onto the National Mall Oct. 4 [1997] to hear from a diverse array of speakers who came to call this cross-section of American churches to repentance. The throng heard from charismatic, evangelical, black, white, Indian, Asian and Hispanic speakers. They spoke of the gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance from racism and sexual sin, the need for stronger churches and the conversion of sinners.

And yet, under scrutiny, we find that their words, plans and deeds are hollow and unbiblical, and are deceiving many millions into false and dangerous beliefs and alliances. While television and newspaper cameras showed hundreds of thousands of men sprawled on their faces in prayer, a survey of those in attendance revealed that many of those same men lacked even a basic understanding of the simplest Bible doctrines and could give no solid testimony of their conversion to Jesus Christ.

How is it that a million men, many of whom do not have a clear testimony of salvation, can redeem a nation by "standing in the gap"? And why do they need to? Hasn't Jesus Christ once and for all stood in the gap for anyone who will come to him?

In fact, a large percentage of those surveyed became angry that someone would have the gall to question such an obvious display of unity. Men who would never consider getting upset over lesbian ministers or the doctrines of Rome, quickly become red-in-the-face at the idea that there is something unbiblical about the mixing of belief with unbelief, that God might not honor their noble pilgrimage to Washington. And this in spite of the clarity of God's Word on the subject of separating from all appearance of evil. In interviewing the men at Stand In The Gap, the writers of this article found the words in Galatians to be true -- "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16). This is the very thing that happened. The men considered us to be the enemy there. This is what happens when you leave the old fashioned faith. When false doctrine comes in, people begin to view those who believe right as the enemy. People don't like the negative part of the Bible; it's not what it's for, but what it is against. Listen to what one Promise Keeper wrote to a fellow brother that believes that the PK is of the devil:

"What is your problem, brother? Did you or did you not see what happened Saturday in DC? ... The opposition from NOW and gay and lesbian organizations is a sign that it was a divine appointment. Why must good Christian men like you and Phil Arms use your platform and ministry to join the opposition. I don't understand.

"You have such a problem with Catholics attending Promise Keepers; I hope they don't attend your church -- they might saved. That's what is happening at PK. Evangelism, you should try it. You know the great Commission. If you have time in between bashing sessions or tearing down the body of Christ. Get real, Get in love with Jesus.

"You guys are NUTS. To think that the only way to be saved is by being Baptist, and that Catholics are wrong is just plain crazy. You really should attend a Promise Keeper event and allow it to change your life. The Holy Spirit moves in strange and mysterious ways. He just might even be able to help you out of your narrow view point."

The message that Jesus Christ of the Bible preached was a very narrow message. They (the religious leaders, much like the PK leaders) crucified Him for the message He preached.

The concept of unity in diversity has so permeated the evangelical church[es] that seemingly no one on the Mall could offer any reason why God should not smile at this patched together conglomeration of liberals and conservatives, holy rollers and liturgists, Catholics and Baptists, old scholars and new-agers.

An announcer on a local Washington radio station covering the event spoke of the beliefs of most of those present. "To a God who sees all, this must please his heart."

While we are instructed by Scripture to be of one mind, the evangelical today scoffs at the idea of true biblical unity, based on complete agreement with, and submission to, God's holy Word.

As the speakers preached the PK gospel of repentance from denominational division, the men on site revealed by their beliefs and opinions just what that means in a practical sense. The following is a paraphrased summary of answers given to a list of questions posed to a number of attendees at this meeting. As the surveys were being conducted, it seemed apparent that the real unity being displayed by the men on the Mall was their inability to answer any of these questions consistent with the teaching of Scripture:

1. What church do you attend? Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, charismatics, independents and others answered the survey. One Liberty University student claimed to be a Baptist with a Catholic background, and said that both traditions were valid.

2. Are you born again? Almost everyone, including the Catholics interviewed, responded "yes" to this question, though several offered disclaimers by saying something along the lines of "I don't mean 'born again' the way most people mean it."

3. Do you speak with other tongues? About a third responded that they did.

4. What is your understanding of the Bible? Is it to be taken literally? At this point, the answers began coming less quickly and with far more explanation needed to develop each respondent's personal view of what the Bible has to say and how it is to be read. Answers were extremely mixed on the inerrancy of Scripture. Most indicated that the Bible should not be taken literally on history or science.

5. What do you believe will be the final condition of the church when Jesus returns? Answers to this question were almost evenly split between those who believe the church of Christ will be large and powerful and those who had never considered such a question and had no thoughts to offer on it. No one said that they believed the church would be a remnant.

6. How important is it to you that there is little doctrinal agreement among the members of Promise Keepers? Almost every person interviewed quickly answered that it was of no consequence to them that there was no agreement on Bible doctrine. Most took great pride in the ability to ignore Bible doctrine for the greater good of the cause of unity. The one pleasant surprise to this question came from the only woman interviewed. She was a 27-year-old volunteer handing out some of the one million free Stand in the Gap CEV New Testaments. She answered that she was very concerned that there was not much stress on doctrine.

7. What do you believe the Bible says about the importance of doctrine? Many answered with the question, "What do you mean by doctrine?" Others said the Bible teaches only that there are essentials that all Christians must subscribe to and that there is great freedom beyond that. The female PK volunteer was the only one who answered that the Bible treats the subject of doctrine seriously.

8. Do you believe there will be a revival before the return of Jesus Christ? How will in manifest itself? "Yes. You're looking at it," was the primary response. One respondent said that there would be a revival and deception at the same time. No one else interviewed depicted any type of apostasy to avoid.

9. Do you believe that Roman Catholics are Christians? Almost every respondent said yes, though several added weak stipulations. "Yes, they can be," or "Yes, if they accept Jesus Christ, they are," were the most typical answers. No respondent said flatly that Roman Catholicism is not Christianity.

10. Do you know what the Eucharist is? Most had no understanding of the Catholic Eucharist. One former Catholic understood completely and renounced the Eucharist as unchristian and another evangelical understood that it represented the literal body and blood of Christ, though seemed not to object to its use.

11. Do you believe that a Christian can pray to Mary? This question produced some of the most surprising answers as several said that a Christian can pray to Mary but should not expect an answer. After receiving that answer, the question was rephrased to say, "Do you think God minds when a Christian prays to Mary?" Some of the respondents changed their opinion to limply say something along the lines of, "Well, I suppose," but many did not.

Given space, many direct quotes could be provided that would further show the woeful lack of Biblical doctrine that most Promise Keepers understand or subscribe to. For most reading this article, that is probably not necessary.

Nor is it necessary to give a great deal of space to the fair speeches delivered from the platform. Most of the danger in Promise Keepers, as with all neo-evangelical organizations, lies not in what they say (though that is often bad enough), but in what they refuse to say.

We could cite Dr. A.R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Life Center in Brooklyn, NY, and his continued references to the great work of reconciliation performed by Martin Luther King. Would the cause of Christ not be better served by calling on black Christians to jettison their allegiance to a man who was no Christian in any biblical sense? Will God not judge those who follow a man who denied the deity of Christ, who spent his last night on earth in the same adulterous pattern he had lived the last years of his life, and who preached, not the gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather the gospel of social reform?

We could point to Jack Hayford, Randy Phillips, Raleigh Washington, or any of the numerous speakers who urged men to their knees in repentance, yet refused to acknowledge that there was anything to repent of in attending churches run by false prophets, or liberals, or homosexuals or women.

We could call on James Ryle, the pastor of the Boulder Valley Vineyard, who gave a clear presentation of the gospel, calling on all the men present to repent, and yet failed to acknowledge his own false prophecies and repent of them. (See Foundation magazine article on Ryle's false prophecies for more information)

While more than a million men streamed into Washington to acknowledge their sins, they went home none the wiser for what many of those sins are, even after spending the day between prostration and group hugs.

Anyone who has ever witnessed to a modern-day evangelical knows first hand of the overwhelming ignorance that exists today on the subject of apostasy. Multiply that by one million and you have "Stand in the Gap." One British newspaper described the audience in this way: "Every denomination was represented, from Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Baptists to 'Bikers for Christ' wearing T-shirts declaring 'Satan sucks.' There were guitar-playing Christians calling on people to 'Jam for the Lamb,' and muscular Christians sporting logos of a Herculean Christ under the words 'Lord's Gym.' There were also T-shirts that had the saying from a Bud-Light commercial with the words 'I Love you Man,' but instead of having a man saying that to a friend trying to get his beer, it was Jesus saying the words 'I Love You Man'."

One of the saddest sights was to see the thousands of men wearing the shirts that said "BREAK DOWN THE WALLS." In Nehemiah, the Lord's people were building up the walls to keep the enemy out. But at D.C., they were telling the men to break down the walls. When the walls are broke down, the enemy can easily come in. That is exactly what the Devil wants -- for Christians to have their spiritual walls broken down so that he can come in and wreck their faith.

Even the Chicago Tribune took notice of the disparity of beliefs among participants: "... Joseph Stowell, president of Chicago's Moody Bible Institute and representative of one of America's most venerable and buttoned-down evangelical institutions, spoke from the same podium as Charismatics and Pentecostalists who practice a wildly different kind of worship." [Actually, Moody very well represents the doctrinal smorgasbord found at PK.]

For Promise Keepers, "wildly different" beliefs and practices do not constitute any cause for concern, unless they produce division. Only then are they to be repented of. Fellowship with apostasy is not something to be avoided, but something to be embraced. How different this is from the attitude of Scripture: "I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked" (Psalm 26:4).

In this treacherous and deceitful age, a number of issues should be of primary concern for a group that caters to evangelical Christians. Some of them are:

Not once was any man at Stand in the Gap warned of, or given an opportunity to repent of, these grave sins before a Holy God. The concept of standing firm on any particular doctrine or belief has been utterly abandoned by the majority of evangelicals today. It has been replaced by a concept of God's love in which anyone who names the name of Christ, no matter how far afield in doctrine, is welcomed into the fellowship of believers.

Promise Keepers is just the latest tower of Babel -- a feeble attempt by all concerned to reach God on their own terms. As the days of Babel were marked by reliance on human effort to reach God, we know from Scripture that the last days will be characterized by the same haughty spirit of spiritual self-achievement.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

Never was that more evident than on the Washington Mall.

[This article is part of an eye-witness report by Brian Snider (bsnider@quicklink.net) of the "Stand in the Gap" rally in Washington, D.C. Brian Snider is a free-lance writer from Birmingham , Alabama; he represented FOUNDATION Magazine at the Promise Keepers Washington D.C. rally. The FOUNDATION Magazine article contains photographs taken by brother Snider].


Additional comments by David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277

DENOMINATIONAL DIVISIONS ARE DOCTRINAL

One of the theme songs of the ecumenical movement is "God is destroying denominational lines." This, as we have seen, is still one of the chief goals of the Promise Keepers movement. They are breaking down the walls between denominations. This is a gross error which ignores the reason for denominational divisions. Some divisions between Christians are manmade and unnecessary, but many others -- most, in fact -- are doctrinal. Why, for example, is an Episcopal church different from an Independent Baptist church, generally speaking? Different doctrine. One teaches baptismal regeneration; the other teaches baptism is symbolic only. One baptizes infants; the other practices believer's baptism. One sprinkles; the other immerses. One has a priesthood; the other has pastors and deacons. One has a hierarchical church structure; the other practices the autonomy of the New Testament assembly. One interprets prophecy symbolically and is working to establish the kingdom of God on earth; the other interprets prophecy literally and is looking for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. One allows its leaders and members to hold every sort of heresy and immorality; the other practices discipline and separation.

What is the difference between an Assemblies of God congregation and an independent Baptist church, generally speaking? Doctrine. One believes the baptism of the Holy Spirit is something the believer must seek and that its manifestations are tongues and other spiritual gifts; the other believes the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred at Pentecost and that every believer has the Holy Spirit and has no need to seek a Spirit baptism. One believes the sign gifts are operative today; the other believes the sign gifts were given to the Apostles and ceased with the passing of the Apostles. One believes the Holy Spirit "slays" people; the other believes "spirit slaying" is unscriptural and demonic. One believes the gift of tongues is operative today; the other believes the gift of tongues had a temporary purpose and that its purpose ceased in the first century. One believes salvation can be lost; the other believes salvation is eternally secure. One believes ecumenical unity is the work of the Holy Spirit; the other believes ecumenical unity is the work of the devil.

Those who call for the removal of denominational divisions are ignoring these serious doctrinal differences. Any Bible doctrine worth believing is worth fighting for. When Paul wrote to Timothy to instruct him in the work of the church, he did not tell him to "lighten up" and to ignore doctrinal differences. He solemnly instructed him to remain absolutely steadfast in the apostolic doctrine and not to allow ANY other doctrine to be taught.

"As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach NO OTHER DOCTRINE" (1 Timothy 1:3).

"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, THE SAME commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2).

Many Charismatics and other ecumenists are practicing gross hypocrisy. They teach their doctrines about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts and ecumenical unity and they expect everyone to agree with them. Those who do not support their doctrine are labeled schismatic and unloving. Why is it right for the Charismatic to teach and practice his doctrine, but it is wrong for the non-Charismatic to teach and practice his doctrine? Why is it the non-Charismatic who is unloving and schismatic? Why is it not the Charismatic ecumenist who is unloving and schismatic for calling upon non-Charismatics to give up their doctrinal convictions and join hands with them?

Those who have the most to lose from the ecumenical call to dissolve denominational walls are those whose doctrine is based upon the Word of God. A man who is convinced his doctrine is based on the Bible is a traitor to hold hands with those who oppose his doctrine.

In Jude 3 God's people are exhorted to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." The faith once delivered to the saints is that body of truth delivered to us by the Apostles under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit and perfectly recorded for us in the New Testament Scriptures. Tell me, what part of the New Testament faith am I to give up for the sake of ecumenical unity? I will answer that. None; not one part.


Biblical Discernment Ministries - 12/97

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