PROMISE KEEPERS: Is this for Christian
Almost everyone has heard or read of
"Promise Keepers". Great meetings of men have been
conducted in various cities and even a meeting of between 500,000
and 1,000,000 men met in
Washington D.C. last fall. Surely some of the ideas that are promoted are good and beneficial both to the individuals, their marriages and families, and for the nation as a whole. There is a need today to emphasize male leadership, especially at a time when it seems families are disintegrating and fathers are missing or non-existent. To stress the responsibility of men is surely a noble thought. Also the aim of turning men to God, to focus on Jesus Christ is also a noble goal. I certainly applaud those efforts.
But I cannot stop at that point and suggest that if that is the case then all is well. It isn't! May I point out at least three reasons that I believe Promise Keepers to be a gathering in which true Christians cannot participate.
In every gathering there is a call for commitment to Jesus Christ. While, I believe the Bible teaches commitment to Jesus Christ, there is a definite manner in which that commitment is to be made biblically. From the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper comes this statement on how to become a Christian: "You need to do five things to become a part of God's family.....a) Admit your spiritual need,...b) Repent,...c) Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose again,...d) Receive, through prayer, Jesus Christ into your heart and life,...e) Tell a believing friend and pastor about your commitment." It is impressive to me that not one passage was quoted to show authority for this plan of salvation, although various parts of the plan could have been substantiated by Scripture. It is also impressive to me that not once in the Scripture will you find Jesus, an apostle or New Testament Gospel preacher listing these steps in becoming a Christian. There is not one mention of baptism. Peter told those believers on Pentecost, in Acts 2, to "repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." V. 38. The Samaritans, when they heard Philip preaching, "The things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized." (Acts 8:12). Also in Acts 8 is the story of the Ethiopian who when he heard Philip preaching Jesus requested baptism. He was told "If you believe with all your heart, you may." After he had confessed that he believed Jesus to be the Son of God, he was baptized, (Acts 8:36-38). Even the Jailer in Acts 16 was told "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." But "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17). Therefore they had to speak "the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." And the next verse tells us that "he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes (repentance). And immediately he and all his family were baptized." Acts 16:33. And again in Acts 18:8 the latter part of the verse, "And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized." Why do we not hear biblical language from those involved in Promise Keepers ? Can Christian men be involved in that which will cause thousands to go away thinking they are saved when in reality they have not yet obeyed the commands of Jesus?
One of the bases of the Promise Keepers is unity. It is suggested that many doctrinal practices which may be contradictory to the teachings of others or that which would make one distinct or different are not relevant to unity. The Ambassador's Instructional booklet suggests that those who go to the various religious groups and recruit are to "avoid negative political, doctrinal, and denominational remarks and discussions." And should you wonder which doctrinal subjects are to be strictly avoided, and should not be addressed; they are: Eternal security; the Gifts of the Spirit; Baptism; Pre-tribulation or post-tribulation; Sacraments or ordinances." Doctrinal commitments are those very things that have made the churches of Christ distinctive. They are the very things that Promise Keepers would suggest are the barriers that prevent unity. Can unity be based on anything that denies Bible doctrine? Can we just agree to drop that which we have believed to be Bible doctrine for so long and pretend that it doesn't exist or matter? We have preached unity for years. But it is a unity that is based upon the teachings of the Bible. I suggest there can be no religious unity until we are all willing to lay down our own ideas and come submissively to the Bible and its teachings. The writings of men can never provide a basis for unity. The idea of ignoring basic Bible doctrines cannot provide a basis for unity. We must unite upon the Word of God and the Word of God alone. Can Christian men join with a group that promotes unity without acknowledging the basic doctrines of the Bible?
Although there needs to be a ground swell approach to a commitment made by men to basic Bible principles, there can never be the kind of unity, harmony or commitment Promise Keepers calls for without a strong commitment to following the Bible in all that it says. Unity is unity and it cannot be divided into segments. Promise Keepers will attempt to suggest "organizational unity" and "unity of heart and purpose". I suggest that "unity of heart and purpose" will have the proper organizational unity. It isn't possible to divide the Old Testament into a moral law and a ceremonial law as some have been wont to do. Nor is it possible to divide unity into separate segments and hope to maintain the whole.
|There are so many ways in which
Christian men can and should be challenged to do that
which the Bible teaches them to do that it isn't
necessary to join with those who teach false doctrine
that would lead others astray. Let's unite together to
influence other men to allow the Bible to be rallying
ground for unity and for doctrine practices.