May 1, 1998 Issue

by P. Duane Permenter

Every Christian strives to keep his promises. Jesus and the inspired authors of the New Testament teach this repeatedly in various passages such as Matthew 5:37. The Promise Keepers have the admirable goal of making promises and carrying them out; nevertheless we should carefully investigate this organization before accepting it. The Promise Keepers' sincerity and their efforts to do God's will are in question. However, it is our responsibility to scrutinize any man-made organization that claims to serve God. Paul states in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Test all things; hold fast what is good." Jesus also commended the church in Ephesus for testing men who claimed to be apostles and were not (Revelation 2:1,2). The Scriptures expressly instruct us to test men and their beliefs (Matthew 7:15-20). Assuredly, the criterion by which we test are taken from God's Word (I John 4:1,6; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).

After examining the Promise Keepers in light of God's Word, I believe membership in this organization should be rejected for two main reasons: 1) While good-intentioned, the Promise Keepers is an organization that substitutes man's way for God's way. Such unauthorized substitutions have never been acceptable to God. 2) Instead of standing against denominationalism, the Promise Keepers embrace it. Participation in, or even association with, that ideology gives it credence and is clearly at odds with New Testament teaching.


Bill McCartney started Promise Keepers in 1990 while he was a football coach at the University of Colorado. He observed that men have not always fulfilled their role in the home as God intends and that the problem seems to be getting worse. This is true and his "intent" to remedy this problem is good. In fact, the Promise Keepers' mission statement reads: "Promise Keepers is a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to uniting men through vital relationships to become godly influences in their world." This sounds appealing, does it not?

But what about God's remedy for this problem? Hasn't the Lord given the church the responsibility of training men and women in the gospel, including their role in the home, (Titus 2:1-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Titus 1-5; Ephesians 4:11,12, and many other passages)? God has not authorized His people to organize or be a part of any body designed to do the work of the Lord, except the local church. In this case, the observation that many men were not following God's pattern does not mean that the pattern is faulty and needs to be changed. Instead, men ought to change their behavior to follow God's pattern! This mis-identification of the real problem is, no doubt. a result of Satan's deceptive schemes. Many have joined Promise Keepers without stopping to consider how the Lord regards this association. This lack of careful thought opens the door to Satan's subtleties and often leads men to accept innovations that continue to plague the Church. For example, men sometimes sincerely believe they are working for the Lord when in reality their work changes His divine pattern. The Lord is never pleased with substituting men's ways for His, even when men have the best of intentions. The Promise Keepers is an unauthorized religious organization that substitutes men's ways for God's. Such changes are never acceptable to God and Christians should have neither part nor lot in them. The real solution for the real problem is to follow God's pattern, not organize a new one.


Another important Promise Keepers' belief to consider is their sixth promise: "A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity." Again, this has surface appeal, but the idea suggested in this statement is that we should compromise the truth to obtain unity. The Promise Keepers claim that we must overcome barriers and unite in spite of doctrinal differences. Their plea is, "do not emphasize differences, just accept one another in diversity". This is true when it comes to racial differences; however, Christians cannot unite with denominationalism by accepting doctrinal differences. God is not a respecter of persons and does not care what race we are. On the other hand, He does care what we believe and practice in religion. Plainly, this ideology is false. Christians cannot have fellowship with such a denominational dogma. The Bible is clear in this matter: "Whosever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ. he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds," (2 John 9-Il). In John 12:48, Jesus tells us that whoever rejects His word will be rejected at the judgment. No Christian has any business involving himself in this ideology by involving in this organization. The Bible teaches us that we should have no fellowship with such alliances, or we become partakers of other people's sin.

Church leaders need to take a positive stand on the uniqueness of the Lord's church and against the Promise Keepers and any other organizations that attempt to change God's pattern. We cannot chance passiveness about participation in Promise Keepers. Once this group gets a foothold in the local congregation, dealing with the problem will be very difficult. Promise Keepers is not the work of the Lord and will therefore have an adverse effect upon any local church. Perhaps the best defense against this or any other unauthorized changes like it, is for every Christian man to ensure that he is following God's pattern for himself, as a husband, father and in every other role in life. If we would do that, we would clearly see that no changes are needed!

Remember what Jesus said: "Beware of false prophets; which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven," (Matthew 7:15-21). Clearly, we will not receive a blessing from the Lord in our labors unless we labor according to His Word.

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