PROMISE KEEPERS: AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE
May 1, 1998 Issue
by Doug Hawkins
In Exodus 23:31-33 God told Israel, "And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely he a snare to you" (NKJV). Warning them of the dreadful results, God told Israel not to make covenants with the heathen nations that were to he driven out of Canaan. In a very short time though, Israel did the very opposite of what God said according to Judges chapter two. These unholy alliances with the heathen nations led Israel into the defiant practice of idolatry. Judges 2:2-3 says "And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall he in thorns in your side, and their gods shall he a snare to you" (NKJV). In Judges 2:11 the scripture goes on to say, "then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals." Blinded by the influences of these heathen nations, Israel wondered away from God into the foul practice of paganism and idolatry. As is plainly evident, the major contributing factor to the grave apostasy in Israel was the relationships she had forged with these other nations in Canaan. Instead of opposing and uprooting the false religions of the Canaanites, Israel tolerated and eventually embraced them. Thai incident should serve as a clear spiritual lesson for the people of God today.
Similarly, within religion, there is a present movement for peace and unity among various religious parties. Denominations are attempting to unite with one another in spite of their glaring doctrinal inconsistencies. They are trying to improve relationships by honoring what I would call on unwritten peace treaty, a treaty that states church doctrine shall forevermore be a negligible part of religion. More and more, denominations are interfacing with one another by conducting union meetings, by forming friendship alliances, or by alternately inviting one an6ther to preach in the other's pulpit. The question that immediately comes to mind is how can these people "with one mind strive for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27) when their basic doctrines are so radically different?
Not surprising, even the ultra-liberal churches of Christ in some places are involved with denominations in this same way. For instance, in Ada, OK, recently, a very liberal "cups and Sunday school" church of Christ invited the Lutheran minister along with several other denominational preachers to participate in a special Christian service. In addition to that, the journals among these same liberal churches document that the renowned author and preacher of the church of Christ, Max Lucado, frequently works in cooperation with Baptist churches and their ministers. In fact, on one of his recent radio broadcasts, he invited his listeners to pray the sinner's prayer for salvation and told them nothing of baptism for salvation. (As a side note, if I had any of his books in my library, I'd burn them like the Ephesians did their books of curious arts in Acts 19.) Another infamous name among these very liberal churches of Christ is Rubel Shelley. Like Lucado, he too advocates open fellowship with denominational churches, especially within the present movement of promise keepers. This practice of having fellowship with denominations is in the face of the apostle John's warning that says it is wrong to extend "God's speed" to people who have transgressed the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11).
The natural outgrowth of increased interdenominational cooperation is the formation of special organizations to provide an open forum for more religious interaction. These interdenominational organizations attempt to coalesce the different religious sects and parties into one unified fraternity. Some of the most popular organizations that come easily to mind are FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes); Cowboys for Christ; Racers for Christ; and the recently touted - Promise Keepers.
Since organizations like these are created for noble purposes with noble ideals, some people have a difficult time understanding the real danger of being associated with them, Referring to our subject at hand, some may say, "what's wrong with learning to be a better father and a man of your word?" (That was the initial vision of promise keepers.) Nothing! You should strive to be a better father and a man of your word, but do you need to be a part of promise keepers to learn that? Absolutely not! You need to read your Bible. Why then was PK (promise keepers) started?
PROMISE KEEPER'S STATEMENT OF FAITH
Bill McCartney, former head-coach of the Colorado University football team, had a spectacular vision of teaching men to be men of integrity. Thus, PK was born. From their own statement of faith, we learn the purpose of their existence and the aim of their mission. They state that: I) PK is a Christ-centered ministry; 2) PK's conferences allow men from around the nation and world to 'join together" for worship, prayer, and teaching; 3) PK seeks to build denominational unity; 4) PK believes that "only through faith, trusting in Christ alone for salvation which was made possible by his death and resurrection can the alienation of sin be removed.
THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE
Several insoluble problems with this movement immediately come to mind. First, the promise keepers movement and organization supplants the church in her God-given purpose and divine mission. What marked difference is there between PK and a denomination? There is no difference! Like any duly recognized denomination, PK is an independent religious organization funded through charitable donations where men worship and are taught the Bible. They have a briefly written creed, stating the reason for their existence, and they enlist members into their organization. Besides their huge two-day conferences, PK also has local chapters in many communities where private groups meet weekly for Bible study, prayer, etc. Again I ask, what difference is there between PK and a denomination? Second, being a part of the promise keepers' movement places the child of God in fellowship with people of denominations. In light of what the Bible says in 2 John 9-11 and 2 Cor. 6:14-17, how can Christians be a part of this organization. By their own admission, PK seeks to build "denominational unity" and to provide a forum where people can 'join together" for prayer, worship, and Bible study. Finally, sharing in this organization makes a person responsible for the false doctrines that the organization teaches. PK plainly teaches salvation by faith only. When a Christian supports, defends, or financially contributes to the movement, they are by all rights culpable for the false teaching. Persons that are a part of the organization are accountable for every soul that is misled.
Brethren, we will never convert people to the truth through compromising the truth. You will never just befriend people into the church, or just love them to heaven. The thing that will save their soul and set them free is the truth! (Jn. 8:32) Listen, the promise keepers organization undermines the sacred purpose of the church, compromises the apostle's doctrine, and places the child of God in unscriptural fellowship with men of denominations. Beware of the unholy alliance, lest ye serve their gods!
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