The Harmful Impact of Promise Keepers
April 23, 1996
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is from Promise Keepers and the Forgotten Promise by Ernest Pickering. This booklet is available from Baptist World Mission, P.O. Box 1463, Decatur, AL 35602:

"Promise Keepers is as serious an attack upon biblical separatism and fundamentalism as the [churches have] seen since the rise of Billy Graham and his ecumenical evangelism a generation ago. It is going to cause major problems for pastors who are trying to maintain a biblical position.

"This movement is PROMOTING A DISREGARD FOR THE BIBLICAL TEACHING ON ECCLESIASTICAL SEPARATION. This is a very difficult teaching to protect anyway, because the tide of public opinion and even evangelical opinion is running strongly against separatists. It is not fashionable to raise barriers and delineate theological truths sharply. When a major group like Promise Keepers urges the Christian public to drop their `biases' and `prejudices' and rally together with all who call themselves Christians, many within even fundamental churches are going to respond positively. Many think fundamentalists are too contentious anyway and will welcome an opportunity to break away from what they feel are overly-narrow parameters. In most of our separatist churches there are people who are members, and even, in some cases, leaders, but who do not really share the separatist convictions of the church. If the pastor does not promote Promise Keepers, such people are likely to promote division in the church.

"Fundamental churches that become active in the Promise Keepers movement WILL BE EXPOSING THEIR MEN TO TEACHINGS, PHILOSOPHIES, AND ACTIVITIES THAT ARE CONTRARY TO THE HISTORIC POSITION OF THEIR CHURCH. While some men could perhaps attend rallies without being negatively influenced away from their church's teachings, they will be relatively few in number. `Evil communications corrupt good manners' (1 Cor. 15:33), or, as someone has rendered it, `Bad company corrupts good character.' If men of a fundamental church associate on a regular basis in worship with Roman Catholics and charismatics, their spiritual character is going to be corrupted, their discernment will be impaired, and their stand for the faith will be weakened. This in turn will cause the entire church to shift its position, since men are the leaders of the church. It will be gradual, but it will happen.

"As men participate in Promise Keepers, THEY WILL BE ATTRACTED TO LEADERS WHO ARE NOT SOUND IN THEIR THEOLOGY AND PRACTICE. The speakers represent a wide spectrum of theological teaching which would be contrary to the teaching of most fundamental churches. It is already difficult for pastors of sound churches to protect their sheep from attractive and articulate persons like this. They are featured in many public settings, author best-selling books, and appear on Christian radio and television. A pastor does not need to give them further exposure to his people through Promise Keepers.

"Participating in the programs of Promise Keepers OPENS THE DOOR FOR FURTHER AND WIDER COMPROMISES. Once you begin to ignore or at least minimize the importance of sound doctrine in favor of certain perceived benefits, it is easier to continue doing this. Convictions begin to erode, and justification is made for all manner of unholy alliances.

"To involve the men of a fundamental church with a group including many non-fundamentalists encourages a pragmatic and `feeling-oriented' basis of judgment rather than a scriptural one. We are living in a society that has largely replaced the objective with the subjective. The important point for many is `How do I feel about this?' If one `feels good,' or `receives a blessing,' then the activity must be acceptable. To sing rousing songs with 30,000 men in a stadium is exhilarating to many. They view it as an uplifting spiritual experience without stopping to consider the theological ramifications of it. This is to put the judgments of men above the judgments of God. Our prayer and aim ought to be that of the psalmist: `Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein do I delight' (Ps. 119:35). Our question should not be whether or not we are having a `meaningful experience,' but whether we are walking in the commandments of the Lord. Are the premises of Promise Keepers scriptural? This is the key question.

"To worship and cooperate with Roman Catholics and others who are in doctrinal error PROMOTES THE IDEA THAT CORRECT DOCTRINE IS LESS IMPORTANT THAN FELLOWSHIP. This is a very popular concept today in Christendom. One is reminded of the slogan of an organization that was one of the forerunners of the World Council of Churches: `Doctrine divides, but service unites.' Many professed evangelicals today follow that philosophy, though they may not articulate it in that way. But it is not God's emphasis. The early [churches] continued `in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship...' (Acts 2:42). Doctrine is more important than fellowship and is listed first. Fellowship must be built on doctrine.

"There is at least one more potential result from involvement with Promise Keepers that might be harmful. IT REMOVES THE CENTER OF BIBLICAL INSTRUCTION, AT LEAST IN SOME MATTERS, AWAY FROM THE LOCAL CHURCH. Where are men supposed to be receiving their spiritual instruction? The answer is clear from Scripture--from their pastor within the context of their own church. This is not to say that one cannot be blessed and helped occasionally through the ministry of someone outside the church. However, the New Testament emphasizes the fact that the God-appointed pastor is to be the chief spiritual tutor.

"`And he gave some ... pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ' (Eph. 4:11,12). The leaders of the Promise Keepers are not the pastors of the men to whom they minister. Whose responsibility is it to teach men about how to be fathers, husbands, and spiritual leaders? It is the responsibility of the pastor. ...

"People will travel hundreds of miles and pay lots of money to sit and watch a noted leader put diagrams on a huge overhead screen, and with much flourish and charisma tell them the very same things their pastor has been telling them for many years. They will return to their homes, however, and tell their friends, `I never heard such teaching! I learned so much!' The fact of the matter is, they heard little that their pastor had not already told them many times. But to hear it in a different, more `exotic' setting from someone who is supposed to be a noted `expert,' somehow seemed to give to it an authority heretofore unknown.

"Special problems can arise, however, when outside teachers, not part of the local church, give instruction which is contrary to that given by the pastor. Bill McCartney, as an example, says it is perfectly all right to
worship with Roman Catholics, yet a man's pastor says it is not. A conflict is immediately engaged, and to whom will the church member be loyal?

"What should Bible-believing pastors and local churches do about the problems created by Promise Keepers?

"INFORM YOUR MEN OF THE DANGERS OF THE MOVEMENT. We need not do it in a nasty spirit, but we need to do it. Many good men are taken in by such movements as this, simply because they are not aware of the problems. It is the pastor's task to `feed the church' as an overseer appointed by God (Acts 20:28). This involves protecting the sheep from harmful influences.

"REFUSE TO PROMOTE PROMISE KEEPERS. There will be great pressure on some pastors to do just this, but the pastor must be resolute.

"EVALUATE THE MINISTRY OF YOUR CHURCH TO MEN. Many churches may have inadequate ministry to men and may need to recognize that weakness if it is present and make plans to correct it.

"EXAMINE YOUR PREACHING AND TEACHING. The pastor should examine his own preaching and teaching ministry. Is he preaching the `whole counsel of God' which would include truth calculated to make the men of his church spiritually stronger? Is he exposing his men to biblical truth that will
make them better husbands, fathers, and church leaders? Pastors are human and can sometimes fall into patterns of preaching that may be lacking in certain truths.

"STAND FIRM AS A CHURCH. The men of the church, particularly the leaders, should not allow a movement like this to take the church off course from its historic and biblical position. Good laymen within our churches should stand with the pastor and help other men see the dangers of becoming
involved with Promise Keepers.

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