ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
Biblical Reasons Why 'Promise Keepers' is Wrong
by A.B. Brown
How could a movement which is doing so much good be so bad? Surely every child of God would be in favor of men being good husbands and fathers; of breaking down racial barriers and building better race relations; of honoring the pastor and the local church; and finally, of exalting Jesus. Further, how could anyone oppose something which has been such a numerical and financial success and has the blessings of many leaders of nationally known evangelical Christian ministries and even of the President?
On the surface it appears that anyone who would oppose Promise Keepers would also be opposed to motherhood and apple pie. Especially is this true in light of the fact that probably nothing in her 300 year history has impacted the American Church in such a brief span of 6 years as has Promise Keepers. After all, they had 4,200 men show up at their very first publicly organized meeting in 1 991. In 1 992 they drew 22,000 and 50,000 in 1993. Sensing that they had struck a vital nerve and a need in the American male, they quickly moved to seven regional meetings in 1 994 attracting 278,600 (a phenomenal 600% growth in 12 months), and in 1995 they attracted more than 727,342 men to their regional meetings.
The real impact of the PK Movement on the Church is reflected by the fact that on February 13-15, 1996, more than 39,000 clergymen showed up for a special rally for the clergy held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. That in and of itself is a momentous accomplishment. The assembly of more than 39,000 clergymen in one place at one time for anything, spiritual or otherwise, is unique to the history of the American church. It says volumes about the ecumenical force of the movement which has united men across racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds more effectively than anything in American history.
A movement of such stupendous proportions which has such noble goals would seemingly demand that it be endorsed by everyone interested in advancing the cause of Christ, of America, and of the home. Yet, all that glitters is not gold. Success is not measured simply in terms of numbers and outward appearances. There are major problems with the Promise Keepers, even with all its apparent success and the good it appears to be doing, The right thing can be done in the wrong way. It is never right to do wrong in order to do right. The ends do not justify the means. God's work has to be done God's way. It is never right to violate the Word of God to do the will of God. If it is a work inspired by the Holy Spirit, it will harmonize with the Book inspired by the Holy Spirit. The call of God never includes violating the commandments of God.
Major Problems with PK
To the Church, the PK Movement is a modern Trojan Horse. Initially and from the outside it looks very appealing, but, like the Trojan Horse, the problems are on the inside. First, PK is wrong in its leadership which is composed primarily of the radical charismatic Vineyard Movement. Second, it is dangerously wrong In its theology although its official doctrinal statement is orthodox, Third, it is wrong in its ecumenical efforts to break down all denominational barriers and create a false unbiblical unity of the pagan and the saved which, as stated by PK founder, Bill McCartney, would be controlled by the radical leadership of the PK. Fourth, it is wrong in its male-bonding discipleship program, And finally, it is wrong in its lack of commitment to the Truth.
Seriousness of the Problems
If the stated goals of the PK are realized, they will ultimately destroy the American Church and will be a major step in ushering in the harlot church of the end times via their unscriptural unity with the unsaved and especially with the harlot Roman Catholic Church.
Their downplaying of doctrine for ecumenical purposes and acceptance of extra-biblical dreams, visions, and revelations by its leadership and speakers will ultimately destroy the foundation upon which the Church of Jesus Christ is built. The Church is erected upon an established and authoritative body of doctrine drawn from a Bible which she has historically recognized as God's final and authoritative revelation to man. The Bible has been her sole authority and guide. She has recognized the Bible to be sufficient to equip the Church of God to do the work of God regardless of the age. (This is what the Protestant Reformation and the martyrdom of multiplied thousands of Christians by the Catholic Church were all about.) PKs' recognition of extra-biblical dreams, visions, etc., will leave the Church without an authoritative guide and subject only to the latest dreams, visions, and so-called revelations of the radical Vineyard group to guide her. A good illustration of what happens to a group when it abandons the Bible as the final authority is the complete disarray of the Liberal Church today,
Problems With Leadership
Any movement will ultimately take on the character and beliefs of its leaders and the theology of PKs' leadership presents major problems.
Its founder, Bill McCartney, former head football coach of Colorado, is associated with the Vineyard Movement but was reared as a Catholic. Mr. McCartney has never made a break with this false religion by renouncing it as a works salvation religion whose hands are red with the blood of the martyrs.
If one takes Mr. McCartney's statements at face value, he personally intends to take over the leadership of the American Church. In a speech in Detroit, Michigan, on April 29, 1 995, McCartney, in his promotion of the clergy gathering in Atlanta the next year, spoke of the lack of a 'unity of command' within the American clergy and said, "We have to assume that responsibility.' Later in that same speech as he sought to goad all the clergy present at the Detroit meeting to attend the Atlanta clergy conference he said, "if a guy says that he doesn't want to go, he needs to be able to tell us why he doesn't want to go.' (Who is Bill McCartney that I need to explain to him why I do not want to attend an unscriptural ecumenical meeting?) He then makes another amazing statement which reflects his belief that he and the PK movement are called of God to head up the new church he seeks to form. He said, 'Why wouldn't you want to be a part of what God wants to do with His handpicked leaders?' In his concluding remarks he says, "We've got to have one leadership, one leadership only."
So, if the PK stated goals are realized, the Protestant Church will be brought back under a modern pope and college of cardinals who will provide her with "one leadership.' Apparently McCartney is convinced that he and his men of the Vineyard Movement are God's handpicked men to lead this new church. According to the Scriptures, the Church is to be led by Christ, her Head, through His Word, and energized by the Holy Spirit who gives her life.
Randy Philips is the president and administrative head of PK and is also a Vineyardite and a former Roman Catholic. He has served as a senior pastor for 5 years and as an associate for 10 years. He led the Denver Broncos' Bible study for 2 years.
His unscriptural concept of biblical separation from unbelief is made clear by his being a guest speaker at the apostate Robert Schuller's International Men's Conference in 1994. As a member of the Vineyard Movement he recognizes the radical excesses of the so-called revival in Montreal, Canada where people bark like dogs and are moved to excessive and uncontrolled laughing supposedly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
James Ryle, Bill McCartney's pastor, who is one of the directors of PK, preached the now infamous sermon in 1990 called 'Sons of Thunder' in which he revealed that he had recently had 3 dreams which God had interpreted for him when he awoke. In these dreams God revealed that He had initially anointed the Beatles to bring a worldwide revival and had removed that anointing, holding it back for 20 years to be given to modern day musicians. (One wonders how the omniscient God of the Scriptures could have made such a mistake and then have to retrieve that mistaken anointing. He further wonders how the holy God of the Bible could 'anoint" unbelievers to usher in revival.) The PK have recently sought to tone down and ,explain' Ryle's radical statements to make them more acceptable to the evangelical church.
The PK Movement is basically a Charismatic Movement which is obviously errant on the doctrines of tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but the key issue revolves around the leadership's unscriptural view of dual authority. Their documents ascribe to the Bible inspiration, inerrancy, and authority, but not as their sole authority. The PK Movement also recognizes visions, dreams, and revelations as being given today by the Holy Spirit to modern "prophets of God". These visions etc., being inspired of the Holy Spirit, are to them as authoritative as the Book inspired of the Holy Spirit. According to PK theology, the wild imaginary stories dreamed up by the minds of their modern storytellers carry the same authority as John 3:1 6.
Whatever happened to the Church's historic doctrines of the sole Authority and Sufficiency of the Scriptures as taught in 11 Tim. 3:76-17? Does this passage not limit inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the original manuscripts? Does it not teach that we establish our doctrine from the inspired Scriptures and not from dreams and visions? And, finally, does not this passage also teach that the Word of God is sufficient to equip the man of God to do the work of God?
PKs' goal of 'breaking down the walls' would be a noble goal if it were undertaken under the authority and guidance of the Scriptures. However, its statement of faith reveals its unity at all costs philosophy. It states, "We believe we have a God-given mission to unite all men who are separated by race, sectarianism, age, culture and economics.' Note that one of the goals of the PK is that of uniting all who are separated by 'sectarianism.' The dictionary says that sectarianism has to do with one who is devoted to or prejudiced in favor of some sect and in this context it has to do with a religious sect or denomination. PKs assume that denominations are innately sinful, but this position cannot be established from the Scriptures. True biblical unity does not eliminate the possibility of diversity. There is a difference between diversity and division. The division arose when so many denominations abandoned the fundamental doctrines of the faith and began preaching an unbiblical social Gospel. This division is biblical and these walls can never be torn down. If the Bible-believing Church abandons the fundamental doctrines of the faith in order to tear down the walls of division created by liberal unbelieving denominations, that will spell the ultimate destruction of the true church and will result in a giant step in the formation of the harlot church of the end times.
'Ambassadors' are PKs whose task it is to introduce the movement to the community and to local churches. A part of their task is to recruit Key Men in every local church to act as contact men within that local church for the PK. The Ambassador Candidate booklet directs them as follows: "Because PK is committed to building relational bridges, Ambassadors must avoid political, doctrinal, and denominational remarks and discussions" (p.12). It is a dangerous and destructive thing when Christians place relations or "tearing down the walls' above sound doctrine. However, this next directive is even more dangerous to the autonomy of the local church and will prove to be a very divisive factor in any church which does not choose to go along with the program of PK. Here is one of the functions of an Ambassador: "He carries the message of PK to his community, identifies potential Point (Key) Men, and encourages reconciliation across denominational and racial lines." (4/95 Men of Action). Once PK recruits a Key Man in a local church which refuses to go along with their unity at the cost of sound doctrine, that man will create havoc in that local church and for that local pastor. Even if a church did support PK, it would seem that Christian ethics would demand that the pastor, not the Ambassador, would choose the Key Man.
Unscriptural Male Bonding
PKs' concept of male bonding is based more upon psychology than upon the Scriptures. Sins are to be confessed to Jesus who can remove the burden of guilt, not to another PK. One's sex life is not a basis for male bonding. Male bonding, if it is biblical, must be banded upon Jesus and the things of God, Otherwise the relationship is not any different from that of the unsaved world. The PK disciple ship program is an unscriptural male-bonding encounter group where men are invited to share their most intimate sexual encounters, such as their wedding night, with each other.
Problem with Truth
Truth has a twofold aspect. It involves honesty or telling and living the truth, but it also involves a bedrock commitment to the truth itself. Vineyard speakers, many of whom have been featured by PK, have made claims of eyes appearing in a man born without eyes, decayed teeth being miraculously repaired, teeth suddenly being filled with gold fillings, absent teeth suddenly growing back, amputated arms instantly restored, and raising the dead. However, like most so-called faith healers, these miracles seem to always happen in a foreign country or under other circumstances which are not verifiable. Their dramatic miracles always come with very sketchy details. The only dead people they have ever raised are those they pronounced dead. We, as of yet, have not one single account of a person being declared dead by medical science and then being resurrected by a modern faith healer. A team of five doctors accompanied John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Movement, on a campaign to Sydney, Australia, and were not able to confirm one single organic healing. Wimber himself recently has been afflicted with cancer and has not been able to instantly cure himself.
By the way, the fact that a person was healed does not prove that it was of God. A demon could afflict a person and under the ministry of a false prophet cease to afflict in order to make the false prophet appear to be of God and give him credibility.
The false claims by modern Vineyard prophets of their hearings and visions demand an accounting by men committed to the truth. All deceit is of the Devil. Truth is of God. That person or movement that trades off deceit is not representing the God of truth. A child of God must not only tell and live the truth, he must he committed to the truth in his innermost being. There can be no authentic and meaningful relationships between God or man which are not built on the truth. Otherwise, the person not telling the truth is simply using the other person. Truth is one of the most central expression of God's holy nature. Truth is the foundational moral requirement of God, and that person who trades on lying betrays the character of a holy God.
In conclusion, many of the goals of PK are good and biblical. The motives of those involved may also be with the very best intentions. However, the Church can never sacrifice orthodoxy for the sake of unity. The same Jesus who prayed 'that they may be one' also severely denounced the Sadducees and the Pharisees because of their unorthodox doctrines. Doctrinal purity is essential to the spiritual health of the Church (I Tim. 1:3) and the salvation of souls (I Tim. 4:16).
In light of the unscriptural doctrine of dual authority, the present diminishing of doctrine for the sake of unity, and the false claims of many, the Church must ask these questions of herself and of all those who seek to be associated with or approved by her.
1 . Does the person or ministry make unscriptural and unverifiable claims of their accomplishments? Are they deeply committed to the truth to the point of being held accountable? Do they recognize that truth is of God and deceit is of the Devil?
2. Does the person/ministry believe the Bible to be inspired, infallible, and inerrant?
3. Does the person/ministry recognize the Bible as the sole and final authority in all matter on which it speaks, but especially in matters of faith and doctrine?
4. Does the person/ministry recognize the Bible as being completely sufficient to equip the child of God to do the work of God? Will he or the ministry reject any suggestion of a dual authority of the Bible and modern day prophets' dreams, visions, and revelations?
A.B. Brown, B.A., M.Div.For Additional Copies, contact: Southeastern Free Will Baptist College P.O. Box 1700, Wendell, NC 27591-- 919-365-7711