"It is not often that I use this portion of the
"Echoes" to deal with issues confronting our church,
or Fundamentalism in general. However, due to the
tremendous influence that the Promise Keepers
movement is having in our area, and due to my Biblical responsibility to shepherd God's flock. I feel compelled to address the problem not only from the pulpit (which I have done), but also in this forum.
Promise Keepers is a nationwide religious movement dedicated towards
helping men become responisble Christians in their homes and churches.
This is certainly a commendable goal. For far too long Christian men have sat around while the ladies have been forced to take the responsibility for keeping the church programs afloat and for raising
the children. It is my prayer that the men of Court Street Baptist Church would desire to have Biblical manhood. i.e. that they would be faithful to Jesus Christ and His Word both at home, on the job and in
However, while I agree with the general goal of the Promise Keepers movement, I cannot support its program. There are several reasons for this. First of all, God instituted the local church to carry out His program in this age. The Promise Keepers movement, while having some chapters in churches, is at best a para-church organization, and does not function under the authority of the local church. Some might argue that the size of the movement prohibits it from being under Scriptural church authority. However, can we use "bigness" as an excuse for unbiblical practice? The local church is the authority in the New Testament under which all ministry operates, and we dare not circumvent God's plan.
Secondly, I cannot support the Promise Keepers movement because it is very ecumenical in nature. One of its stated purposes is to break down denominational walls. Their materials state this: "A Promise Keeper is committed to reach beyond any ... denominational barriers to demonstrate
the power of Biblical unity."(1) This sounds good, until one realizes that Biblical unity must be based upon the Bible! Biblical unity is impossible with someone who teaches false doctrine or practice. Christ 's prayer of John 17 that "they all may be one" is illustrated in that verse by the unity of God the Father and God the Son. God the Father arid God the Son are definitely united in doctrine and practice, and that must be the basis of all Biblical fellowship. Amos 3:3 asks,
"Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Obviously, the answer is "No!"
Thus, any attempt to bring about unity at the expense of truth is not only foolish, but dangerous. Either I must be a separatist (II Cor. 6:17), or I will compromise my Biblical principles for the sake of unity. The choice to the Believer is obvious. At a recent Promise Keepers rally, pastors were asked to respond to an altar call. There, prayers were said over the pastors, including prayers for forgiveness. One of the things that was to be forgiven was "putting up barriers on account of denominational dogma. "(2) Does this mean that I should repent for taking a stand on eternal security, baptism by immersion for believers only, salvation by grace as opposed to salvation by works, and other similar, Bible-based issues? Must I repent for not allowing those who speak in tongues to preach from my pulpit? Any true pastor would never repent for practicing Biblical truth, which includes exposing error. The ecumenicism of Promise Keepers is an enemy to truth, arid I cannot support it.
Due to space I will list only one more item. In any movement. It is wise to examine the well from which the movement springs. If the well is impure. then the spring will be impure as well. Bill McCartney, former football coach at the University of Colorado, is the founder of this movement. He is a member of John Wimber's Vineyard movement, which is a highly charismatic group that is practicing "signs arid wonders", and believes that God is still giving new revelation today in spite of the fact that God said that He closed the canon of Scripture at the end of the book of Revelation. Wimber's assistant pastor, Jack Deere, made the statement that to believe that the Scriptures are sufficient and
that new revelation from Heaven is not being given is "demonic."(3) This type of philosophy explains why the Christian Research Institute made these remarks concerning the Vineyard movement: 'While there is much teaching in the Vineyard concerning practical matters... there appears to be little emphasis on teaching the Bible per se. While Bible teaching is not emphasized enough. The roll of experience in the Christian life appears to be somewhat over emphasized... They seem too willing to assume that whatever transpires in their midst is from God.(4) If this is the theology which Bill McCartney has embraced, can a religious movement which he founded be doctrinally sound? Again the answer is obvious. If we as Bible-believing, fundamental Baptists would not drink from the impure water at the source, then we dare not drink from the water downstream either.
Please understand that some good things are taught by the Promise Keepers movement. There is surely a need to bring men back to spiritual leadership. But compromising Biblical teaching in an attempt to produce a Biblical product is not the way to accomplish it. If men are to be set apart unto God, they need to do it God's way. In John 17, the same prayer mentioned above, Christ gave the way. He said simply
"Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth."
It's Christ's way, and it 's the only way.
(I) Bohgan. Martin and Deidre, "Promise Keepers and Psychoheresy" (Santa Barbara: East Gate Publishers n.d.)
(3) Thompson, Mark, "Spiritual Warfare: What Happens When I Contradict Myself, " The Briefing (April 24, 1990), 12.
(4) Miller, Elliot and Robert Bowman. "The Vineyard", CRI paper (Feb. 1985), 1.
Mark J. Montgomery