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WHAT’S WRONG WITH WAYNE JACKSON in his criticism of Promise Keepers?

Commentary by Charles Sulka

Wayne Jackson doesn’t think much of the Promise Keepers Movement.

In his web blog post “What’s Wrong With the Promise Keepers Movement” Wayne Jackson insists that the founder of Promise Keepers (Bill McCartney) could not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to start the organization, as McCartney claims:

“The PK leaders contend for a supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit —- when no such experience is available today. While miraculous revelation and signs were a part of the apostolic experience in the first century, those wonders were removed from the church’s possession when the New Testament canon was completed (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). (See our article on Miracles.)”

Wayne Jackson is guilty of serious error in this matter. The man’s words are foolish. It is not man’s place to assign an arbitrary end date to God’s revelations and deny that the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in the world today.

Mr. Jackson’s logic is faulty, due in no small part to his lack of understanding of Scriptures. Mr. Jackson claims that ‘the end of the Apostolic Age’ brought an end to the life of the Spirit in the Church. Fortunately, most Christians believe otherwise, and welcome the Holy Spirit into their lives. The citation from 1 Corinthians is an exortation to internalize brotherly love as central to Christian life. Love is the basis of the faith. The passage cited has nothing to do with discussion of the end of the Apostolic Age (the passing of the Twelve Apostles.) It surely does not imply a cessation of the presence of the Holy Spirit in men’s lives.

The Holy Spirit does not need Mr. Jackson’s dispensation to do the work of the Lord. The truth of the matter is, the Holy Spirit is alive and well — and hard at work throughout the world. Mr. Jackson apparently does not recognize the presence of the Lord or the works of the Holy Spirit.

Incidentally, the canon of the New Testament was not formalized until late in the 4th century, nearly three hundred years after the death of the last Apostle (the end of the so-called ‘Apostolic Age.’) By Mr. Jackson’s logic, the Holy Spirit could not have guided the Bishops in the Council’s review of the numerous written works claiming to be gospels of the Lord (twenty-seven ‘gospels’ are known to have been in circulation at the turn of the first century a.d.) Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how could the Bible even have been compiled? It is universally agreed by Christian theologians (Martin Luther being a notable exception) that the books of the New Testament were all inspired writings (mostly, anyway … the Book of Revelation wasn’t added to the canon of the Bible for another decade, after contentious debate.) The only way anyone could know what was ‘inspired’ would be through the guidance of the Holy Spirit — the same Holy Spirit that Mr. Jackson says had long since departed.

While it is true that there are innumerable counterfit spirits in the world, leading men astray, it is a serious error to say that the Holy Spirit is no longer at work in the Church. That is like saying that God is dead. That is simply not true.

A quick glance at the rest of the article shows a general lack of understanding of the nature of the early Church and the role of scripture on the part of Mr. Jackson. For example, Mr. Jackson claims that the early church (prior to 100 a.d.) was unified, ‘one body’, citing Paul of Tarsus. In his writings, Paul was apparently trying to imbue a sense of unity into a Chuch which history proves was anything but unified. There were countless different cults and sects throughout the region, all with competing claims on Christ. How else would there have been so many — literally dozens that we know of — different gospels in circulation, nearly all of which were rejected by the Bishops as spurious (not inspired) when the Bible was compiled?

I find the Promise Keepers message to be truly inspiring. There is no need for a ‘ministry’ sponsoring mass prayer meetings, or even a formal organization. Just promote the seven PK precepts. Like the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy, and the Seven Cardinal Sins, the Promise Keepers’ seven precepts provide valuable guidance for living the Christian life. I believe the Promise Keepers is proof that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in the world today.

Mr. Jackson’s other books and articles have not been reviewed.

The Christian Courier article follows. The article is in text format; for HTML see the web page.

(chs 08-17-2016 12:07 -0500)


What’s Wrong with the Promise Keepers Movement?

by Wayne Jackson

Stockton, California has been one of the roughest cities on the West Coast. It’s had a significant crime rate—one of the highest in the nation. And it’s been a major “drug hub” for the West. One can imagine, therefore, that a great sigh of relief went up from Stockton’s religious community last weekend when thirty-five thousand weeping, praying, hand-holding men descended upon the city. It was the Promise Keepers (hereafter known as PK) convention.

According to literature distributed by the PK officials, the idea for this movement was born in March of 1990, when Bill McCartney, then head football coach for the University of Colorado, and his friend, Dave Wardell, were driving from Denver to Pueblo, Colorado. Subsequently, a group of men organized to form a plan to rejuvenate “Christian” men with a new spiritual emphasis. Everything came together eventually, and in 1993, PK was born.

Huge rallies are conducted periodically in various parts of the country, and thousands of men travel (sometimes great distances) to attend. They generally pay a $55 registration fee, which provides several services.

The PK philosophy is based upon the premise that “Christian growth begins by making promises.” Seven of these promises are extracted from disciples of the PK movement. They are as follows:

* A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to his Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
* A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.
* A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
* A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and biblical values.

* A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of the church by honoring and praying for his pastor and by actively giving his time and resources.

* A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.

* A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

“How in the world,” some wonder, “could anyone who honors the teaching of Jesus Christ not be thrilled with proposals such as these?”

No one, who is honest with the evidence, is going to deny that there are some good motives and aspirations in these premises. But that is not the entire picture. These platform planks, together with other literature from this “ministry,” reveal some astounding errors—errors so serious that they cannot be ignored.

No sensitive person takes any pleasure in having to expose the fallacies of a movement that attracts so many sincere men who want better things for their families. But, as unlikely as it may seem to the superficial Bible student, the ideology of the PK phenomenon is seriously flawed in several significant particulars. This brief article is not intended to be a detailed review of the flaws of PK. Rather, we call attention to but four of the false ideas promoted by the administration of this organism.

1. The PK leaders contend for a supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit—when no such experience is available today. While miraculous revelation and signs were a part of the apostolic experience in the first century, those wonders were removed from the church’s possession when the New Testament canon was completed (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). (See our article on Miracles.)

Today, there is not one fact that anyone knows about the character of God, the life and work of Jesus Christ, the gospel, or what God’s will for man is, except that which is learned from the Bible. No person has ever been discovered in any remote region of the earth who knows anything of these matters, if he has been totally isolated from the influence of the written Word.

And yet the PK literature suggests just the reverse of this. It is even contended that “the idea for Promise Keepers was planted in the heart” of Bill McCartney (emphasis added). By whom? Do ideas exist apart from words or other communicative symbols? If they do not, might not one then conclude that Mr. McCartney claims a divine revelation for the origin of PK?

2. The PK administrators have no respect for the New Testament concept of the church of Jesus Christ. In the first century there were no denominations. There was “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:4), and that body was the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24). Denominationalism is an apostate aberration that originated centuries after the cessation of divine revelation (2 Thessalonians 2:1ff; 1 Timothy 4:1ff). The PK organization asserts an ecumenical theory regarding the church that is entirely contrary to New Testament doctrine.

The PK system, therefore, does not promote genuine biblical unity; rather, it fosters sectarian division. It is strikingly at variance with the prayer of Jesus (John 17:20-21), and the admonition of the Lord’s apostle (1 Corinthians 1:10). The PK philosophy of “support your local denomination” is completely misdirected.

3. The PK emphasis on male togetherness, as a formalized movement, finds no scriptural sanction. In Christ, we are neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female (Galatians 3:28).

What if someone aspires to establish an all-white movement, designated as the Caucasian Covenant Keepers? The outcry would be vociferous—and rightly so! If a para-church movement, segregated along racial lines, is unacceptable, where is the value in gender exclusion in pursuing spiritual goals? PKism is a fad with no biblical basis.

4. The PK dogma is wholly at odds with New Testament teaching relative to the plan of redemption. Advocates of “PK-ology” promote the so-called Sinner’s Prayer. They allege that salvation occurs the instant the following words are mouthed: “God, I confess to you that I am a sinner. And, through faith, I invite your Son into my heart this very moment, to save my soul.”

Though many who offer such a petition are unquestionably sincere, there is no New Testament precedent for this sort of prayer. Moreover, in spite of explicit biblical evidence to the contrary, PK officials are adamant that immersion in water has nothing to do with one’s salvation (cf. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). This is nothing short of heresy.

Finally, this query must be raised: in view of the foregoing (and much more), how could anyone—who possesses a fundamental level of Bible knowledge—endorse or support the PK enterprise? And yet some, who should have known better, have done so. It is to their shame.

We do not question the pure motives of thousands of men who are seeking some enhancement for their family relationships. We do affirm, however—and emphatically so—that Promise Keepers is not the answer.

We are sufficiently “rooted and builded up” in our relationship with Christ (Colossians 2:6-7), and his divine organism, the church.

Scripture References

Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Timothy 4:1; John 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10;
Galatians 3:28; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:6-7

Jackson, Wayne. “What’s Wrong with the Promise Keepers Movement?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: June 20, 2016. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/110-whats-wrong-with-the-promise-keepers-movement

The Prophets by Wayne Jackson

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