July 18, 1997 (Adapted from: David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist News Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) -- The latest edition of Our Sunday Visitor, an influential conservative Catholic weekly publication, contains an article entitled, "Making New Catholic Men: Promise Keepers 'gospel for guys': Is it just the thing that Catholic Men need, or is it bound to loosen male bonds to the Church?" The article describes the efforts which have been made by Promise Keepers leaders to make Catholics feel at home in their organization. Note the following quotes (Mike Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor, July 20, 1997, pp. 10,11):
(a) "While there are no hard figures, some say that 10-20 percent of those men [attending Promise Keepers conferences] are Catholic. And, recently, Promise Keepers, a largely evangelical movement, has taken steps to attract even more Catholic men to its events and principles of
(b) "At its March meeting, Promise Keepers' board of directors welcomed Mike Timmis as a new member. A Detroit-area lawyer and businessman, Timmis is a longtime leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal."
(c) "At several rallies this year, PK has spotlighted Catholic evangelist Jim Berlucchi as a speaker."
(d) "In June, PK hosted a 'Catholic Summit' at its headquarters in Denver, sounding out Catholic volunteers and leaders from around the country."
(e) "And EARLIER THIS YEAR, PROMISE KEEPERS AMENDED ITS STATEMENT OF FAITH, REVISING THE LINES THAT CATHOLICS HAD FOUND OFFENSIVE.
(f) "PROMISE KEEPERS FOUNDER BILL MCCARTNEY TOLD OUR SUNDAY VISITOR RECENTLY THAT FULL CATHOLIC PARTICIPATION WAS HIS INTENTION FROM THE START. 'Back in 1992, at our first stadium event, we very clearly stated from the podium that we eagerly welcomed the participation of Roman Catholics, and we've had scores of Roman Catholics attend and go back to their churches excited.' ..."
(g) "As executive director of Christian outreach at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, [John] Sengenberger cites Promise Keepers as the inspiration of the men's conferences his own office has sponsored since 1995. ... Sengenberger invited representatives from Promise Keepers to visit the university. 'We had some frank discussions and told them we needed to see some Catholic involvement on the leadership level.' ... When Steubenville hosted its first men's conference in 1995, Sengenberger invited two Promise Keepers officials to attend: Dale Schlafer, who was at that time chairman of the board, and Glenn Wagner, a vice president. 'It was their first time in a Catholic evangelistic setting,' Sengenberger said. 'They were impressed. When they were leaving, we invited them to go through our bookstore and take out any books they wanted. They went home with all kinds of theology books, Vatican II teachings. ... Dale took a set of the Liturgy of the Hours. The following year, he told me he'd incorporated it into his daily prayer, so Glenn asked for one, too.'"
(h) "Both men returned to Steubenville for the 1996 men's conference, where Sengenberger took them to a Eucharistic holy hour. 'I took them aside and explained what we were doing, how THIS ONLY MAKES SENSE IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS. That night we were down by the stage, and I remember going down on my knees, then prostrate, down on my face-and right next to me was Glenn Wagner, doing the same thing.'"
(i) "Yet profound differences remained between the evangelicals of Promise Keepers and Catholics who were sympathetic. Last year, Promise Keepers published a 'statement of faith' with lines that seemed to be crafted to exclude Catholics -- or force them to reject their Catholic faith. Section five of the Promise Keepers credo 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.'"
(j) "'Faith alone' is a key doctrine of the Protestant Reformation. Though the phrase appears nowhere in Scripture, it was inserted by Martin Luther into his German translation of the Bible. Concerned about this development at Promise Keepers, Sengenberger had several Catholic theologians review the statement and present their objections to Wagner last summer."
(k) "EARLY THIS YEAR, PROMISE KEEPERS REVISED THE STATEMENT IN A WAY THAT PASSED THEOLOGICAL MUSTER WITH THOSE CATHOLICS: 'Only through faith, trusting in Christ alone for salvation, which was made possible by His death and resurrection, can that alienation be removed.' 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.
COMMENTS BY FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST INFORMATION SERVICE EDITOR -- DAVID
We see in this article more evidence that Promise Keepers leadership is playing politics with their ecumenical agenda. When questioned by "Protestants" about Catholic participation in Promise Keepers, they claim they want Catholics to come simply because they want them to hear the Gospel and be saved. On the other hand, when questioned by Catholics about Catholic participation in Promise Keepers, they claim they want to receive Catholics as they are as brothers in Christ without any desire to evangelize them away from their "church."
We see that Promise Keepers leadership is bending over backwards to increase Catholic participation in its movement and to calm the fears of Catholic leaders about the prospect of Catholic men leaving Romanism because of their participation at Promise Keepers events. They are not requiring that Roman Catholics reject Rome's false doctrines. Promise Keepers leaders are not exposing Rome's blasphemous gospel and doctrines which have led multitudes to eternal damnation. PK leaders are faced with the same dilemma as all ecumenists. If they were to preach the truth boldly and identify false doctrine plainly, it would destroy their ecumenical agenda. The Apostles were not content merely to preach the Gospel in a positive manner; they continually exposed false gospels and warred against doctrinal perversion. We are to follow in their footsteps. Our commission is to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We are to fight for the truth and AGAINST error. Promise Keepers leaders refuse to do this [because they are part of that error].
SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE
Even the old PK statement was murky and insufficient. If they wanted to clarify the Gospel in the present ecumenical climate, they would plainly state that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone because of the atonement of Christ alone without works and sacraments and priest craft. The old PK statement allowed room for false gospels. The new statement is even worse, allowing more room for false gospels such as the one preached by Rome. False gospels are not completely new gospels; they are the true gospel with a few "minor" changes, with new definitions. Every false gospel redefines grace to somehow include works or sacraments. This is what the Apostle Paul fought against in the book of Galatians.
When Promise Keepers first published its brief statement of faith, it did not include the phrase "through faith alone." It was added because of the outcry of those who protested that the absence of this phrase leaves room for false gospels which mix grace and works, faith and sacraments. You see, false gospelers do not deny that salvation is by faith and by grace. What they deny is that it is by grace ALONE through faith ALONE without works and sacraments of any sort. Now we see that Promise Keepers has again modified its statement to remove "through faith alone" to please the Catholic leaders with whom they are fellowshipping. Promise Keepers vice president, Paul Edwards, tells us that PK's doctrinal statement is "dynamic" and "open to change." This is typical of those with an ecumenical agenda. They claim that sound doctrine is precious to them, but in practice they are incredibly flexible and nonchalant about the most foundational of doctrines.
The article in Our Sunday Visitor claims that "through faith alone" is a doctrine devised by Martin Luther. This is perfect nonsense. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is precisely the Gospel preached by the Apostles and given to us in the Word of God. Paul described this Gospel by revelation in Romans 3:23-4:6. It is the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone without works of any kind. Paul also carefully described the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Again, there is not one word about works or sacraments. The Gospel is salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Period. It is Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, no works, no sacraments. Praise the Lord!!
When the Philippian jailer asked the Apostles, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30,31). Nothing here about works or sacraments or church or priests.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught the same thing, of course. When the crowd asked Christ, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" he replied, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:28,29). Again, nothing here about works or sacraments. John 3:16 says "whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Faith alone. Faith in Christ, plus nothing and minus nothing.
Biblical grace means the unmerited eternal salvation of God which comes freely and directly to the believing sinner through the atonement of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24 - 4:6; 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7). The Roman Catholic Church has redefined grace to include 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). THESE WORDS COULD NOT BE PLAINER.
Beware of Promise Keepers. Its leaders are either very ignorant, or they are very [deceptively] clever.