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Who Are the Promise Keepers?

By E. Claude Gardner

religion, articles, christianity

Promise Keepers is a national movement for men only "dedicated to uniting men through vital relationships to become godly influences in their world."

What do the Promise Keepers believe and practice? From official publications of the organization the following beliefs are worthy of consideration:

  • The Promise Keepers Statement of Faith (creed) has five planks. Number 4 states, "We believe in the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit, that he performs the miracle of the new birth in an unbeliever and indwells believers, enabling them to live a godly life." Number 5: "[T]hat alienation can be removed only by accepting through faith alone God's gift of salvation" (Promise Keepers, Men's Conferences, 1996).
  • There are seven promises a promise keeper must make. Number 1: "A Promise Keeper is committed to honor Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God's Word through the power of the Holy Spirit." Number 5 "A Promise Keeper is committed to support the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor and by actively giving his time and resources." Number 6: "A Promise Keeper is committed to reach beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity" (ibid., p. 6).
  • "Conference Ministry: Each year Promise Keepers plan and organize two­day stadium events throughout the nation. By attending you will join men from around the world for worship, prayer and teaching" (ibid.) These 2 day conferences at a cost of $60 each are scheduled from April through October in the following major cities in 1996: Los Angeles, Kansas City, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Boise, Syracuse, Charlotte, Denver, Chicago, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Eugene, New York City, Memphis, Jacksonville, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Thousands of men are expected at each city. In four cities they were "sold out" in early 1996. Some of the topics uniformly discussed in all conferences include "Meeting God: Reconciling you with your Heavenly Father" and "Walking in your Brother's Shoes: Embracing Diversity in the Body of Christ."
  • Under the heading "Worship Team" is "Maranatha! Promise Band" and then "Special Music" by different persons. On June 7­8, 1996 at Syracuse Max Lucado is listed as a speaker (ibid., p. 15). On page 32 his picture is shown and he is listed as the pulpit minister, Oak Hills Church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Iis an official publication of Promise Keepers. The January, 1996 edition gives the 1995 Conferences Review. Editor David Halbrook stated, "[Promise Keepers is a Christ­centered ministry devoted to uniting men through vital relationships to become godly men" (p. 2). Coach Bill McCartney, Founder of Promise Keepers, wrote, "We are living in exhilarating times, when masses of men across the country are gathering by the thousands to worship Jesus Christ, and learning what it is to be godly men" (p. 13). Here are some quotes about the "Year in Review" in 1995. At the Pontiac Silverdome, April 28-29, "An amazing 7,000 men responded to Luis Palau's opening night invitation to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." The total gathering was 72,280. At Atlanta 69,000 men gathered and "hundreds of men and young boys walked forward to recommit their lives to Jesus Christ." At Seattle "God's Spirit had clearly tugged at the heart of each man, bringing conviction in the areas of reconciliation." In attendance were 63,000 men. At Minneapolis 61,600 came and they were "broken by God's Word and renewed by His Spirit." Also, on "Friday night altar call had men jamming the aisles." At Oakland with 49,000 present "Friday night ... brought thousands forward at the invitation to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior."
  • On February 13­15, 1996 the Promise Keepers Men's Clergy Conference was held in Atlanta. Promise Keepers National Director of Prayer, Steve Shanklin declared that he "is blessed to have seen 121 prayer networks and 13,000 intercessors organized throughout this country to pray without ceasing for God's power to touch our clergy." Shanklin asks for daily intercession in the following areas: that God would pour out His Spirit on our nation's clergymen; that God would impart new vision to each pastor (p. 14).
  • Also, listed in Men of Action is a two­page spread about "resources" of books and tapes which are available to purchase such as: The Power of, Promise Keeper ($13), Awesome Power of Shared Belief ($13) and many others.

What Do They Believe?

From the above documented statements what are their doctrinal beliefs?

  • It is a religious movement that encompasses al denominations. It is all­denominational rather the' non­denominational. It is ecumenical. Acceptance 0 many churches is an inherent belief rather than the "one body."
  • The plan of salvation is "faith only" and coming to God by prayer at the altar.
  • The special empowerment in a mysterious ant miraculous way is given to the Holy Spirit in the live' of people.
  • It is loaded with an emphasis of emotionalism and experiential religion. This is not spirituality in the New Testament sense.
  • The "clergy" or pastor system is recognized a! being taught in the Bible.
  • Instrumental music is used in the worship.

Men Who Make the Promises

Those who promote and participate must of neces sity reject the following Bible teaching: baptism for the remission of sins and not by faith only; obeying the gospel rather than the prayer system of salvation; depending on a "thus saith the Lord" in the Bible rather than "feelings"; the Bible as the only guide rather than a special and direct operation of the Holy Spirit; the church of the New Testament is Christ's one body rather than believing in "the church of your choice"; Christian worship includes singing without the use of mechanical instrumental music; fellowship with those "who walk in the light" rather than those who teach error along with truth.

Therefore, to be a Promise Keeper a man just reject and ignore such Bible passages as: Acts 2:38; 2 Thess. 1:7­9; 2 Tim. 3:16­17; Eph. 4:4­6; 5:19; Matt. 16:18.

Published January 1997