What I Think about Promise Keepers
Deception in our world
I was raised in a loving family that was deceived about Freemasonry. It took me many years to discern that Freemasonry was teaching a false God and a false method of salvation. I am highly concerned about false teachings. It seems to me that discernment is more important to those who recognize they have previously been deceived than someone who feels they have never been deceived.
Promise Keepers – God’s Leading
I first heard of Promise Keepers in 1993. My first encounter with the movement was one of enthusiasm from those who attended. I didn’t go that year partially due to the cost of the trip.
Eventually I decided to go to Promise Keepers 1995 at Boise, Idaho and was given some material against PK just prior to going. I wanted to know first-hand if these charges were true, so I decided to go check it out for myself.
My favorite speaker in 1995 was Wellington Boon. He talked about how we should enthusiastically be thirsty for the word of God. He talked about our witness and representation of Jesus in public. He encouraged us to have more enthusiasm and to be bolder in our witness. Because of his encouragement, during his talk, I wrote “Jesus Saves” in red letters and drew crosses on my white tennis shoes as a bold witness for Jesus.
One of the speakers made a surprising statement, “Protestants and Catholics need to get together in our common faith.” I went up after his talk and asked him if he thought Mormonism was a false religion. He said, “Ah’m right with ya brutha. Ah know where ya commin’ from. Right on.” He seemed pleased to receive my brochures on Mormonism. I didn’t have any on Catholicism.
Promise Keepers official policy allows any member to pass out any tracts (brochures) at any of their conventions. They allow total freedom of religion without censorship of any kind. With their permission, I started passing out my tracts. The response was overwhelming! I passed out approximately three thousand brochures about the errors of Mormonism and how to witness more effectively at Boise Promise Keepers in 1995.
There was an ex-Mormon attending PK for the first time who was praying that God would lead him to someone who could help him witness more effectively to his Mormon friends. He had only been a biblical Christian about a year and a half. I was praying that God would lead me to someone who needed help witnessing to Mormons. In that huge pavilion, it is interesting that we ended up sitting right to next to each other. Wow, what fun we had! Later that year, he came with me to Salt Lake to learn and experience what it’s like to witness to Mormons in their streets.
In 1996 My favorite speaker was Dr. Ramesh Richard. He spoke about our highest common denominator. Faith alone (Sola Fita) in Christ alone (Sola Christa) by grace alone (Sola Gracia) according to the Scriptures alone (Sola Scriptora). He said that we are brothers in Christ only if we agree on these basics no matter what church we may be a member of. He taught that we are not brothers if we disagree on these basics. I couldn’t agree more. How encouraging to see discernment at Promise Keepers ‘96!
Although Dr. Richard did not mention Roman Catholicism by name, his talk doctrinally hammered them. (Roman Catholicism denounces “Sola Gracia” and “Sola Scriptora.”) I had just finished a tract on Roman Catholicism and passed it out along with the tracts on Mormonism. I had a good time of fellowship with Christians and witnessing to Catholic Priests. Two Roman Catholic priests actually admitted that they eat their Jesus Christ at every Mass. I believe God was present at Boise PK and am planning to return.
Promise Keepers – Not Perfect
Promise Keepers obviously has been a blessing to me, but just like any other Church or Christian organization, it is not without error. I do not believe that there is a church or organization on earth that is without some sin or error in it. This is because “All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Promise Keepers is no different. Even though I have enjoyed some of their speakers immensely, some of their speakers, books, policies and statements of faith are very disturbing.
Promise Keepers’ Free Male Sex Book
One such book is The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks. This book was a joint effort by Robert Hicks, Promise Keepers and Navigators Press (NavPress). It was given away free to every man who attended PK 1993 in Boulder, Colorado. This book is a truly nasty book. It talks about the symbol of male sexuality and states, “this word (zakar) reflects the phallic male in his distinct sexual aspect” (Pg. 24). Hicks also says, “To be male is to be a phallic kind of guy” (24). “The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication” (51). “Every time he used his penis, he was making a spiritual statement about who he was and who he worshipped and why” (52). He says that men’s sexual problems express in some perverted form, “the deep compulsion to worship with their phallus” (56). He goes on to say, “I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men” (181). In the accompanying study guide (SG), Hicks stays that Jesus is a “regular guy” (SG 21). Thus, Hicks puts Jesus in the same classification as all other men: “a phallic kind of guy” (56). I believe that this is very degrading language to be applying to Jesus, who was without sin. As of four years later, Promise Keepers has not apologized for its role in the production and distribution of the book (it is still sold in Bible bookstores). However, it is no longer sold at PK conventions.
Promise Keepers Statement of Faith
In their quest for unity, Promise Keepers does not discern between biblical Christian Churches and the cults who claim to be Christian. Promise Keepers was asked in a personal letter, dated 12-13-95, “I have several acquaintances that are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and though we have some different views on certain scriptures they seem very sincere and have offered to study the Bible with me and even provide free Bible study aids. My question is, could they be invited to join the local Promise Keepers, meet with men, and help them with their study of the Bible? They said they would be happy to study with them and also provide free study materials.” PK was given the perfect opportunity to warn of a wolf in sheep’s clothing in this letter. However, their response letter had no warning in it. Their only subtle qualifier to local Christians is an appeal to their statement of faith, that “Any man who wishes to become officially affiliated with Promise Keepers … must agree with Promise Keepers’ statement of faith.” I also wrote a letter to PK headquarters asking them where true Christians should “draw the line” between true Christian churches and false ones. Again, in my letter they refer us to their statements of faith along with a statement on unity. The problem as I see it is that PK’s leadership seems to have too much confidence in their statements of faith. They seem to have replaced the Bible as the standard of true faith. I have read the five points in the PK statement of faith and find them to be easily agreeable by most cults claiming to be Christian. A statement of faith should be designed to unify all those who are truly Biblical Christians while, at the same time, exclude those who are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately, PK’s statement of faith is so generic that it does not exclude most of the cults. Although PK is to be congratulated for allowing free distribution of Christian literature at their functions, there is some wisdom in censoring the distribution of false doctrine to new Christians. They should at least help their brothers discern the difference between true and false religions. By allowing the cults to join Promise Keepers, truth is being mixed with error, thereby leading unsuspecting men into compromise.
PK Changes a Statement of Faith
In 1997, Promise Keepers changed their fifth article of faith. The original article of faith expressed Sola Gracia, “Grace alone.” This wording eliminated the customs considered by Roman Catholicism to be sacred and of equal importance with the Holy Scriptures. Because many Roman Catholics were having a hard time with this original statement of faith, PK changed it. It now expresses Sola Christa, “in Christ alone.” Dr. Ramish said that we had unity only when we agree in our highest common denominator; namely by Faith alone (Sola Fita) in Christ alone (Sola Christa) by grace alone (Sola Gracia) according to the Scriptures alone (Sola Scriptora). All of these are needed.
Protestants have disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church on many of their unbiblical customs. Protestants typically disagree that the Pope is infallible, praying to the Virgin Mary, and Purgatory. The Scripture alone determines our rules of faith, and by grace alone that we’re saved.
A Roman Catholic on the Board of Directors
To ensure that Roman Catholics will always be part of PK, a Catholic was added to the Promise Keepers board of directors in 1997.
Two Promises of a Promise Keeper
“Promise 1: A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God’s word.” In being obedient to God’s word, we must teach the true Jesus of the Bible. What should real Christians do to honor the true Jesus of the Bible? Because Jesus said to beware of false Christs, we must teach the true Jesus and expose the false Jesuses that are presently taught. Today there are religions who claim to follow Christ but have redefined who he is. These false religions are called cults and we should be warned about them. Jesus warned the people of his day by calling them “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Some of the modern cults are Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Roman Catholicism, Seventh-Day Adventists, Bran-hamites, and the Two By Twos. True honor to Jesus Christ would include doing the same thing that Jesus did: warn the sheep of the false religions with their false Christs.
“Promise 2: A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.” I do not need other men to help me keep my promises because I have been relying on God to do that. To rely on sinful men for this would be to set a trap for failure. Men of God were men of God because they relied on God. AA uses other men to help keep their members accountable. Men can lie to men, but God knows everything. We need brothers not as policeman or dictators but for fellowship and encouragement.
Solving the Problem In order to help solve the problem, I would like to propose some improvements: 1. Improve Promise Keepers statements of faith so as to separate those who are false (not) brothers, and extend biblical unity only to those who are truly brothers in biblical faith. 2. Improve biblical discernment in the promises. This may include adding a promise to help identify and separate false religions. 3. Improve and encourage discernment in the speeches given at Promise Keepers Rallies. Even the best speakers could do better if allowed the freedom to tell the whole truth, even if it offends those who are lost. Although I was very delighted with Dr. Ramesh Richard’s talk, I would have been thrilled had he felt free to openly name the false religions that have a different view of what the words “grace alone” mean. Both the Roman Catholic and the Mormon Churches believe that grace is not alone in saving you. They believe that your personal works are combined with the grace of Christ to save you. The Catholic Church teaches that each Christian must go to Purgatory. when they die (except a very few who are canonized as saints). There they suffer in fire to atone for their own sins prior to their admittance into Heaven. According to the Roman Catholic Church these are the sins that Jesus didn’t die for. By their teachings of purgatory, Catholicism is against “grace alone;” the free pardon from God without our personal works. Catholicism’s method of salvation is not biblical. The Roman Catholic Church also says that Jesus’ very presence has come here on earth before his second coming. Catholicism falsely teaches their Priests that when they bless the bread, each piece of it turns into the “body of Jesus Christ.” They further teach their people to worship the bread because the bread is no longer bread but Jesus Christ himself. The priests teach that the bread is now physically Jesus “under the appearances of Bread and wine” (Vatican Council II – Flannery #9 p 102-103). Each person that partakes in the Catholic sacrament eats a whole Jesus. Each person eats everything that makes him human and everything that makes him divine (Question and Answer Catholic Catechism – Hardon #1214, #1223, #1224). After the priest blesses the bread, he holds it up and tells his followers, “Behold the Lamb of God.” So strongly is this taught by Rome, that Catholics all over the world “worship and adore” the bread as if it were miraculously turned into the true Jesus of the Bible. Catholics eat Jesus’ literal body. By this false definition, the physical bread on the Roman Catholic altars qualifies as a false Jesus.
Jesus told the whole gospel to his followers. This included his warning against “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” In their effort to create unity, Promise Keepers has included some of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” “Breaking down the walls” doesn’t mean that there is no difference between the true believer and a member of a cult. We are to love those caught in false religions enough to risk offense in order to tell them the biblical truth that can lead to their salvation.
God has assigned a higher responsibility to those who are teachers of the sheep. He says that He will judge them more severely because they are given the responsibility to protect the sheep and not lead them astray. Promise Keepers seems to be more interested in gathering more people together than making sure that their faith is purely biblical at the foundation.
I go to Promise Keepers to evangelize the lost, to help true Christians learn to discern truth from error, and for fellowship. I want to see Promise Keepers get better. I have met some people who act like Promise Keepers is a panacea for all the needs of the Church. I disagree. Ignoring the problem perpetuates the problem, addressing the problem gives us the chance to fix the problem.