by Dennis L. Finnan, Commentator

For many centuries our nation has experienced what we call dynamic movements among men. However the great majority of them come and go leaving little impact and remembrance. Yet as this year moves along, there is one movement that seems to be different. It is a movement that shows much promise and hope for a nation that is reeling under the stagnation of moral and spiritual compromise. Yet with its quiet start in 1990, this movement has grown to include hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life. As a whole those whose lives have been touched by it, show remarkable change, especially in the area of their commitment to live out a Biblical masculinity that has for centuries been assaulted and almost annihilated. What is this movement that has been having a tremendous impact on human lives? It is the movement called THE PROMISE KEEPERS, which is literally sweeping the nation. For those who do not fully know what it is. Back in 1990 Bill McCartney, head coach for the Colorado University's football team decided to organize a nondenominational parachurch organization that would minister to and disciple men to "celebrate biblical manhood and motivate men toward a Christlike masculinity."

Bill McCartney started out small in 1991 by gathering 4,200 men to attend the first Boulder, Colorado Conference. By 1992 this grew to 22,000 and by 1993 more than 55,000 men all across the nation gathered in Colorado to celebrate their commitment to the PROMISE KEEPERS. The goal of Promise Keepers is that by the year 2000, they plan to conduct conferences in almost 50 states gathering more than a million men in this nation, who have committed to themselves and others, to restructure their lives after Jesus Christ and His masculinity and grace. Now that alone is a marvelous and wonderful theme I find no fault with. Yet like every movement that touches the lives of many multitudes, we should examine it very closely to find out its credibility and good, but also its weaknesses and dangers if any. So today friend let's take time to explore this exciting spiritual movement and awakening, to find out how it measures up to the only standard for that which claims to be of God, THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. To begin, we need to know what PROMISE KEEPERS is all about, and what is its basic purpose. McCartney has written his stated goal, "to celebrate biblical manhood and motivate men toward Christlike masculinity... to unite men to become Godly men - by making promises to Jesus Christ and to one another that last a lifetime." From this, we can see the stated goal is to help promote spiritual revival in the homes, churches and communities of our nation. The Promise Keepers say they plan to accomplish this by modeling, praying for and instructing all men to grow into that Christlike masculinity that enables them to become "promise keepers," to the Lord, to their wives, children and the world in which they live.

As it stands today, it appears to be a movement that has all the qualities every Bible believing Christians would want to put their hearts into. Yet for all the good things that are a part of this work, there remains some troubling signs that God's people who love the Lord and His Word, need to be aware of. Now, I'm not about to condemn the Promise Keepers, for what they are doing is noble and exciting to say the least. But the Bible gives God's people the go-ahead to examine any public spiritual movement that claims to be of God. We read in, 1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Yes, God calls us to examine everyone and every movement that claims to be of God - to see its authenticity and spiritual truthfulness, lest we be swept away into error and future temporal and eternal harm. So let's ask - "Who are the Promise Keepers, what is it based upon, and what do they essentially teach?" The first question to answer is, who are the people behind this movement of men? The answer lies in those who are placed in leadership. Bill McCartney the founder and head coach of Colorado University's football team is himself by theology, a Charismatic Christian who is a member in a local church affiliated with the VINEYARD CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP - a fast growing denomination founded by hyper-charismatic, "signs and wonders" healer John Wimber. In addition to Bill McCartney, the Promise Keepers have on its Board of Directorship, McCartney's Vineyard pastor, James Ryle.

What is of great spiritual concern to those who trust the Bible, is the close association of the Promise Keepers with the radical fringe of the Charismatic movement. James Ryle one of the Board of Directors has declared himself to be a modern prophet who has had personal revelations from Jesus Christ. For example in 1990 at a Vineyard Harvest Conference in Denver, Ryle asserted that God had personally instructed him to reveal to the church that the 60-70's rock stars, the Beatles and their music, were the direct result of a special anointing of the Holy Spirit, and that God was looking for others upon whom to place that anointing, supposedly to bring about a worldwide revival through such music. Ryle boldly declared the Lord appointed him as a lookout. Through a divine revelation Ryle said God told Him these exact words. "The gifting and sound that they had - was from Me... It was My purpose to bring forth through music, a worldwide revival that would usher in My Spirit in bringing men and women to Christ." Now I don't know about you, but such words by one who claims to be God's servant, brings shudders to my spine for the Bible calls such bold assertions as, the "voice of demons." Ryle's statements as do the founder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber, reveal Satanic delusions under which these so-called modern prophets are "ministering."

Yes the leadership of the Promise Keepers is theologically suspect. But then let's ask what do they teach? What kind of literature do they distribute, what kind of speakers monopolize their meetings? On two occasions (7/92/7/93) E.V. Hill the hyper charismatic pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, was invited to be their keynote speaker. But at the present, E.V. Hill appears to be following a suspect spiritual trail. He has been known to praise Jesse Jackson for his spiritual awareness, and has even been linked with liberal groups such as the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian leadership which is soft towards the gay movement.

In addition, another keynote speaker was Jack Hayford who spoke at three conferences (7/91,7/92, 7/93). Hayford is another hyper-charismatic pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. Hayford is outspoken in the area of fringe Christianity. He claims to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ seated in heaven and to have heard Him personally speak. This troubles me that this seemingly wonderful movement, to unite men in the common bond of Jesus Christ is being founded by those who are at the least spiritually misguided and at the worst are under Satanic delusions. But now let's ask what kind of teachings are distributed among the men who come to the Conferences seeking help and spiritual guidance? Perhaps the worst is the Promise Keepers continued association with teachings that are heavily Charismatic and some down right blasphemous. Yes, I said that, but you be the judge. You see, the Promise Keepers make available a teaching manual written by Dr. Robert Hicks entitled, "THE MASCULINE JOURNEY: UNDERSTANDING SIX STAGES OF MANHOOD." At the end of the book is a statement that reads: "Promise Keepers wants to provide men's materials like this book." Therefore if we examine the book we'll know the theology and teachings of the leadership's goals.

To begin, Hick's book is biblically erroneous, blasphemous and centered on the exclusivity of human wisdom. For example, in chapter after chapter subjective insights into manhood are offered by quotes of a host of secular authorities such as Carl Jung, who turned out to be a demon possessed psychiatrist, Leanne Payne, a New Age psychiatrist and occultist/spiritualist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. As such, the bold thrust of the book calls men to look within for the wounded experience that causes them to live wrongly among men. This is the age old "victim theology," that minimizes sin and blames everything around us. In addition, there is constant reference to things and subjects of the personal human anatomy that I cannot mention on this broadcast. As one travels through the book you are forcibly drawn to your sexuality which is glorified and emphasized to become the basis of your thought life. In the book Dr. Hicks even accuses Jesus Christ of being a sinner, having sexual thoughts of fantasy about Mary Magdalene. Such talk is utter nonsense and blasphemous! Yet, this is a common thrust of the Promise Keepers ministry teachings, to call men to openly discuss private sexual matters with other men. Those who participate in meetings are called to frankly discuss intimate and personal relationships men have had even with their wives. This is very alarming to me for the Bible tells us we are not to discuss such intimacy with anyone but our mates! You see this new Male Journey," promoted by Freudian psychotherapist Jim Hicks defies God's truths and promotes New Age even occultic teachings.

Now as one examines the emphasis of the Promise Keepers goals, one can find some other troubling concepts and teachings. For instance, the Promise Keepers heavily emphasize the need for healing and reconciling denominations and ethnic separations. For this I applaud them in principle. But when you get down to what they promote to do this, one wonders. You see Promise Keepers is aggressively ecumenical and psychological. Ecumenical in that it calls men to lay aside any and all doctrinal differences a believer may have with other religious people, regardless of what they believe and follow. In so doing, it publicly acknowledges anyone regardless of what spiritual following they are in, as "brothers in Christ." Men from all denominations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds are to be considered "one in Christ and with them." Again, regardless of what they believe or follow. Yet the Bible says in,

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. ... For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." {1}7 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who promote divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring [the Bibles full teaching of Jesus Christ,] do not take him into your house or welcome him. {11} Anyone who fellowships with him shares in his wicked work.

In the Bible, true believers are called to examine the faith of others who claim to be of God. If they do not measure up, if they hold to teachings that deny the fundamentals of the faith, and if their lives and associations repeatedly deny the Christ of the Bible, we are not to join in fellowship with them. Yet the Promise Keepers aggressive ecumenism forces men to drop this separation call from God, and to join hands and establish a close fellowship with others who may not hold the truths of the Bible in their hearts. So to be a Promise Keeper, you apparently must be willing to cross the lines that have theologically divided the religious world, and take such men in a common bond of brotherhood.

In addition, the Promise Keepers appears to promote the idea that no man is morally and biblically sufficient without the aid and support of the rest of humanity. In a publication of their's known as MEN OF ACTION, tenet 7 calls its followers to recognize our human deficiency which can only be met by mutual fellowship, and accountability to other men. Yet the Bible teaches in Christ we are all sufficient, and that all our needs for human fulfillment and perfection are met in Jesus Christ alone, not other men! Now there's a whole lot more to consider and examine, but time will not permit. I only bring these things to light that the men of the Christian faith, might be careful before embracing anything that carries the name and banner of God and Christ. Yes, the Promise Keepers can do a great work in turning men back to see the need to be godly heads of the home, faithful husbands and fathers, and to hold them accountable before others. In this I praise the work of the Promise Keepers, but I am concerned to say the least because of its aggressive ecumenicism that is anti-biblical, its hyper charismatic leadership emphasis, and its glorying in the teachings of anti-god secular psychology.

Moreover, the Promise Keepers by its large movement is attracting well known evangelicals who have lent their credibility by being keynote speakers. Men like Charles Swindoll, Howard Henricks, Tony Evans, Larry Burkett and others who have a wonderful record of faithfulness to Christ - I fear their participation easily can allow these subtle and major spiritually flawed teachings, to take root in many men's lives. Watch out for any group, movement, church or teaching emphasis that calls us to be unbiblically occupied with ourselves, to glory in ourselves, and to concentrate on learning of man from man's perspective rather than God's. What does God say about us? You know but I'll share it again.

Isaiah 1:4-6 Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt... They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned [God] and turned their backs on him. {5} ... Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. {6} From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness.." Isaiah 1:18-19 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. {19} If you are willing and obedient.." Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with your sins], and I will give you rest [forgiveness and grace].

Let's be sure our emphasis is only on the One who is worthy - Jesus Christ. Oh friends, let us not forget our sinful, fallen condition and that in this state, no man can find enlightenment, guidance, or truth outside God's inerrant and infallible Word. May God's grace, mercy and peace establish you in this faith, and may the Promise Keepers learn to focus their attention away from the glory of man, to the glory of God alone through Jesus Christ the Lord.

  • Radio talk # 0695
  • Broadcast date: February 6, 1995
  • Speaker: Dennis L. Finnan, Commentator
  • Program: The World, the Word & You! Radio Broadcast
  • Address: P.O. Box 575 St. Charles, MN 55972-0575

  • The World, the Word & You! Broadcast is a non-denominational ministry based on the historic fundamental evangelical interpretation of the Scriptures.A copy of our doctrinal statement is available upon request.These weekly radio commentaries can be heard in selected areas around the nation. Dennis Finnan has been the speaker for 16 years, and serves as General Director. These transcripts are available free of charge to all who desire them. Also available are radio cassette tapes and printed booklets of each message. A free listing of all messages is available upon request also.

    For further information, reprints, or a listing of all topics, please write to our speaker, Dennis L. Finnan at

    This File Downloaded from:
    Bible Bulletin Board
    Box 314
    Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
    Online since 1986