Promise Keepers Claims Mandate To Unite All Churches

Media Spotlight Vol.21 No.2 June 1998

Promise Keepers Claims Mandate To Unite All Churches

Pastors Conferences Call All Leaders To Submit to PK

by Al Dager

Much is being said today about the financial woes of Promise Keepers With their announcement on February 18 that they would have to lay off their entire staff by April 1 unless revenues increased, rumors began that Promise Keepers was bankrupt. However, bankruptcy was never an issue. At the time, Promise Keepers had enough funds to pay all its current debts. In their newsletter, The Promise Keeper, for March/April 1998, Promise Keepers announced a new plan to use mostly volunteer help. Brian Blomberg, chief financial officer for Promise Keepers, alerted the staff in July of 1997 that the ministry should experience a revenue shortfall about the middle of February. At that time they would be in the midst of what is traditionally "the most challenging fund-raising season of the year.

Cutbacks in the ministry began in 1997 in anticipation of a reduced revenue stream. Initial staff layoffs occurred last July. McCartney pledged last November that there would be no more partial staff reductions. He said at the time, "This is the team for the 1998 season. We're all in this together. If one can't get paid, then no one will be paid."1

Wishing to focus on an evangelistic approach, Promise Keepers decided to drop the $60 conference fees for its 19 stadium events in 1998 in the hope of encouraging men to bring their unsaved and "lukewarm" friends.

Stephen Ruppe, director of public affairs, said, "As a ministry, we are at a critical juncture. We are facing a difficult transition without a steady flow of conference registration revenue. For the first time in our ministry's history, we are solely funded by donors and resource-buyers."2

With the possibility of financial difficulties lying ahead, Promise Keepers is now focusing on raising funds through the churches that subscribe to their philosophy. Pastors are being asked to pledge a minimum of $1,000 from their church funds to support Promise Keepers. They are being reminded of the impact that Promise Keepers has had upon their churches' men s ministries. At the pastors' conference held in Portland, Oregon, in March, Raleigh Washington addressed the need for pastors to get involved in saving Promise Keepers from its financial difficulties.

A MANDATE TO UNITE THE CHURCH

While introducing Washington, McCartney stressed the urgency of meeting Promise Keeper's objective to unite all the churches by the end of the millennium. This, he said, amounted to four hundred twenty-one churches per day that would need to join Promise Keepers' agenda. To do this, Promise Keepers needs a staff:

What is in the heart of God, and what He is asking us to do now is turn to the church to support bringing the body together. I feel the Lord is asking the churches to give $1,000 each.3

He suggested that larger churches help smaller ones. In any case, the task cannot be accomplished without Promise Keepers, which is God's instrument to fulfill His will in the last days:

We believe we are called to go all over the world. The Body of Christ is warring all over the world. I believe God is choosing this time for us to see the Father's heart.4

The Father's heart, he stated, is to see all Christians come together under Promise Keepers' leadership with the financial support of the churches.

Raleigh Washington took the podium to remind the pastors that, in the seven years of Promise Keepers' existence, 100,000 men have given their lives to Christ. He pointed out that Promise Keepers has no cash reserves-that their money had been spent on the Stand in the Gap gathering in Washington DC, and on television specials. He also claimed that attendance at stadium events last year was down because many men decided to go to Washington DC rather than to the stadiums. The purpose of Washington's appeal was not "asking to keep Promise Keepers alive; not asking to support salary staff." The purpose is to ask the churches to come along and support the movement "to present the Body of Christ as one." This, he said, cannot be done unless the pastors connect with the Holy Spirit and get behind Promise Keepers. He then asked the people to pull out their checkbooks and give a gift of $1,000.

Rick Kingham, speaking on "Vital Prayer Partnerships," reiterated the need for the churches to place themselves under Promise Keepers' veil if they wanted to see God's will done on earth. He referred to McCartney's statement that "we really do believe that God has raised us up as an organization to bring the Body of Christ together."

Bill McCartney calls the Promise Keeper agenda a "mandate" from God:

Did you know that there are more than three hundred thousand churches in this country that name the name of Jesus Christ? We are calling-we believe that God has given us a mandate to call those churches together.5

While there is a strong emphasis on the need to unite the churches under Promise Keepers' leadership, the pastors' conferences are not neglecting the overall agenda to bring about denominational and racial reconciliation. During the panel discussion (the tape of which is not available), Roman Catholic bishop Kenneth Steiner, who was introduced as a fellow pastor, stated that the Catholic Church has been doing for some time what Promise Keepers is now doing-bringing about ecumenical unity. Among his statements were references to observing Lent and his having given masses for 600 people on Saturdays.

Jack Cranford, who claims an American Indian heritage, stated that his native American "brothers" are more open to the Holy Spirit because of their spiritual heritage. This implies that one with a demonic spiritual heritage is more open to the Holy Spirit than is one who does not have that heritage.

After the panel discussion, Dennis Dierdorf asked those who agreed with the direction of Promise Keepers to stand in a show of support. After allowing some time for the people to stand he said, "Now I see that some of you are still sitting. That's okay. We realize that it takes some longer than others to be processed."

If there were ever a telling statement about the manipulative tactics of Promise Keepers to gain control over the churches this is it. To "process" people is to work through subliminal and other covert means to change people's minds-to win them over to one side. This is a method of psychological warfare and values clarification. There is no other meaning to the term when stated in the context presented by Dierdorf.

WOMEN PASTORS WELCOMED

While Promise Keepers events have always been "men only" up to this time, the pastors' conferences are open to women. Bill McCartney attributes his Roman Catholic upbringing for his unequivocal trust and love for pastors. Speaking at the Portland pastors' conference in March, McCartney referred to Dale Schlafer's statement that pastors are McCartney's heroes:

Dale is right when he says pastors are my heroes. Men and women pastors are my heroes. I think it's because of the way I grew up. I grew up Catholic. I went to Catholic school in formative years, and we were taught to honor the priest. It was explained to us that the priest had chosen to live single as unto the Lord.6

How McCartney made the transition from the Roman Catholic "men only" priesthood to men and women pastors is not explained. But whereas Promise Keepers claims to want men to take the lead in the churches and in the home, we have shown in previous writings how they in fact make the men subservient to their wives' desires. Now they are advocating that the men submit themselves to their women pastors:

We believe that every pastor on January 1, 2000, needs to come to the state capitol and needs to stand with his men and testify that inside his church or her church that vibrant men are growing in that church.7

I suggest to you that if it's true that a man's character is seen in his wife's confidence, if it's true that the quality of a coach is seen in the execution of his team, then let it be said that a pastor's true reflection is seen as he or she stands side-by-side with vibrant men who have said no to the culture, who have said no to the idol of career, and who have said yes to Jesus Christ. That's a shepherd that God is using to the maximum.8

So in spite of Scripture's proscription against women taking authority over men, Promise Keepers wants women pastors to lead their men for Promise Keepers' agenda.

THE MOSES COMPLEX

In keeping with their authoritarian model, Promise Keepers equates the role of pastors - both men and women - to that of Moses-accountable to no one but God. Speaking of the "calling" Crawford Loritts stressed that no man can have power over the pastor:

What God has for you no mortal whole being can take from you, so you never have to compete or compare. It's not a game that God's playing. What God has for you no mortal whole being that breathes can take it from you. Those deacons don't have power over you! Those elders don't have power over you! If you're walking in the power-Amen! Hey, look! That's shouting time right there! Somebody ought to be shouting up in here! Now, be careful how you do it; God may not want you unemployed tomorrow; no mortal being can take away what God has for you!9

Rick Kingham reiterated Loritts's Moses model and included women, priests and rabbis:

You see, God told Moses, he said, number one, go up on the mountain. Crawford [Loritts] already touched on this, but I want to really land on it very, very hard. I believe that God is calling the men and women of God-the leaders, the pastors, the shepherds, the priests, the rabbis-he is calling us, anyone who is leading churches today, anyone who is leading men and women of God, he is calling us to a greater commitment of prayer than we have ever experienced before.10

Throughout the Promise Keepers' speeches are peppered references to "clergy" as if the leadership is above, rather than from among, the assembly.

The concept of the pastor as the untouchable head of the church is ecclesiastical nonsense. Not only do the elders of the assembly have "power" over each other (in the sense of mutual submission), all the saints are to be in submission to Gods' Word. And all may hold each other to the Word of God regard less of position (Ephesians 5:21). There is no scriptural precedent (other than how it is read into the Word by ecclesiastical authorities) for an infallible head pastor. That's papacy on a smaller scale.

In the process of placing the pastors in the role of Moses, Promise Keepers proposes that the pastors, like Moses, can "change God's mind." Basing this idea on the belief in "limited foreknowledge of God," Crawford Loritts stated:

Gentlemen and ladies, we have an awesome responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. There is a solemn warning here. You know too much; it's because of that relationship. I don't understand all that I know; this does not fit into my theological grid. A great problem passage: In Exodus 32, when they built the golden calf, God was going to destroy them. The Scripture says (and I have checked it out in the original) that because of Moses' intimate communion and relationship with God, he changed God's mind.11

Exodus 32:9-14 does seem to indicate that Moses changed God's mind. But if that is the case, then had Moses not changed God's mind, God would have broken His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Israel. This, God could never have done. For had He destroyed all the tribes but that of Levi (through which Moses was born), how could Shiloh (Messiah) have come through Judah (Genesis 49:10)? God's Word, then, would have been proven false, and Moses would have been more righteous than God.

PK MANDATE

It is clear, then, that God was testing Moses. Would he allow his pride to move him to consent to a new covenant in his own name that would supercede that in the name of Abraham, Isaac and Israel? Moses passed the test and God allowed him to continue to lead Israel.

To suggest that Moses actually changed God's mind would mean that God didn't know His own mind in the first place, and that He would be capable of breaking His Word. But it serves Promise Keepers' agenda to suggest that pastors, if they are dedicated to the task that Promise Keepers has set before them, can, indeed, change God's mind and bring about a great revival.

Because of the "Moses complex" instilled by Promise Keepers in the minds of pastors, there is also presented the concept that the people cannot get to where God wants them without being in total submission to the pastor. McCartney likens this to the role of coach and player, offering examples from the techniques of famous coaches:

I coached at Michigan for eight and a half years with Bo Shembeckler. During the time he was the head coach at Michigan there was a twenty-year stretch where he won more games than any other Division One football coach in the nation. In the years I was with him, I was fascinated by the way that he could pull a team together-by the way that he always emphasized team over the individual....

He'd step back from the chalkboard after hearing what the players wanted to accomplish] and say, "You know, I've been coaching a long time, but I think this is doable. I think we can do this, but I got to tell you: if we're going to pull this off, you've got to turn it over to me. You just got to let me take you where you can't take yourself. Your attitude - your spirit as you sit out there - has to be, 'Coach me. Please coach me. Take me where I can't take myself, Bo.' And when it gets tough in the middle of October when other teams are slacking up and ol' Bo keeps bringing it, I don't want to hear you guys complaining."12

Likening pastoring to coaching, McCartney suggests that authority is the outgrowth of knowledge, which results in the ability to take people where they cannot take themselves:

There is a principle in the heart of God that says knowledge always converts to authority. I suggest to you that when a man has been born again, there is something that God has placed in him that is hungering and thirsting for you to take him where he can't take himself. Take him deeper. He needs you to divide the Word for him. He needs you to open it up. He needs you to draw him in. He will give it up for you-for the Gospel. He will give it up in brotherhood. God has invested that in him.13

This amazing statement suggests that believers cannot go where God wants them to go unless they go where the pastor wants them to go. In other words, the pastor's vision is God s vision in all cases, and the individual's relationship to the Father is predicated upon his relationship to a pastor.

By placing pastors in the role of spiritual mediators, Promise Keepers destroys the Father-son relationship that Jesus died to establish:

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I soy unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

These things have I spoken unto you ill proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father,

At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I ca me out from God. (John 16:23-27)

In the context of the above promise, Jesus tells us that our relationship with the Father guarantees us His truth through the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (John 16:13)

It is the privilege of all sons of God to enter without reservation into Hi, presence because of intercession by Christ on our behalf:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

While Church leadership is to hold the flock to obedience to God's Word, nowhere in Scripture is there an example of lording it over us in order to accomplish some spiritual or works-oriented agenda.

McCartney has consistently told the men at Promise Keeper rallies that they cannot rightly divide the Word of Truth themselves; they need their pastors to do that for them. Consider what this means in view of his encouragement for Catholic men to subject their understanding to their priests. Or for other men to submit to their female pastors.

The subjective theology of charismatism is revealed in McCartney's statement that "There is a principle in the heart of God that says knowledge always converts to authority." How can man know God's heart when he doesn't even know his own heart. The only things in God's heart that we know are those things that are revealed in His written Word. The idea that some "principle" guides God's actions in granting authority to those with knowledge is further evidence of ecclesiastism. Many people have knowledge even above that of their pastors, but they have no authority in the Body of Christ for any number of reasons. In some cases it's because they are puffed up with their knowledge (I Corinthians 8:1); in other cases it's because the pastors are afraid and/or intimidated by those who know more than they do, so they keep them from leadership, and even ignore them.

On the other side of the coin, many people are in places of authority yet possess little knowledge.

In any case, knowledge does not always convert to authority. But McCartney's euphemism justifies his Roman Catholic mind-set. Thus, he suggests that pastors "get right in (the] mustaches" of men who are difficult to control and "call it [their rebelliousness out of them." I assume he expects women pastors to do this, thus emasculating the men in order to get them to follow their lead.

This in-your-face attitude is contrary to Scripture:

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fated not away.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Pet 5:1-6)

In spite of the clergy-oriented establishment that insists upon total allegiance to the dictates of men, Scripture tells us that we need no one to teach us:

These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:26-27)

While the assembly has need of teachers who are gifted in dispensing knowledge (as well as understanding of God's Word), no teacher is infallible or more gifted than any other believer in receiving knowledge from God. Paul even prayed that all the believers would receive knowledge:

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,-

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: Ephesians 1:15-17)

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11)

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:9-10)

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:9-10)

All believers are priests and kings in God's economy. We may learn from one another, but we must also test what we hear and not blindly follow the dictates of men or women, as Promise Keepers advocates.

These are all examples of Promise Keepers pandering to the egos of men and women who fancy themselves "God's voice" to the humble masses. This pandering to the egos of pastors is a major reason for Promise Keepers success. By schmoozing the heads of churches they can gain control over those churches to meld them into their alleged mandate to lead them into ecumenical unity.

IS PK GOD'S VOICE?

In previous writings we have dealt with Promise Keepers' ecumenical fervor, the Vineyard philosophy behind its leadership, and the psychological approach toward behavior modification of men. The psychological approach is easily exposed considering the overt methodology of the encounter group format upon which the instruction manuals for the men s ministries are based.

As far as the ecumenical fervor Is concerned, Promise Keepers has determined that it is not within the scope of their ministry to question beliefs and practices of anyone who claims to love Jesus and to be born again by the Spirit of God; their sole concern is to bring men together in Christian unity.

The Vineyard philosophy of signs and wonders has been downplayed, but there is a deeper concern. That is the claim by the late John Wimber to be the Apostle to the churches in the last days. All Vineyard pastors know of that claim, so it may be reasonably assumed that they subscribe to it if they remained pastors under Wimber's apostleship. With Promise Keepers operating under Vineyard leadership, it is also reasonable to assume that their claim to a mandate from God to lead the churches into the third millennium is based largely on having inherited Wimber's mantle. The Vineyard's subterfuge of infiltrating and splitting churches for the purpose of gaining power has been documented.

The primary method of gaining that power is through teaching on alleged supernatural "signs and wonders" and a hyper-charismatic approach to beliefs and practices. Whereas twenty years ago pastors who may have found themselves in a setting similar to that of Promise Keepers' pastors conferences would have walked out after hearing just a little of what they had to say, today's pastors have become enamored by the prospect of a united Christianity with them having greater power over their congregations. Even many conservative Christian pastors are now at least willing to tolerate (and some join in with) the charismatic practices that the Promise Keepers leadership is gradually working into their gatherings.

For some time Promise Keepers has taken a low-key approach to charismatic practices in their events. The encouragement for the men to raise their hands in prayer and worship is easily received by most Christians- even some conservative Christians who might never do so in their church services. Certainly there is nothing unscriptural or wrong in raising one's hands to God. Paul told Timothy, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (I Timothy 2:8). It was a custom among Israelites to be demonstrative in their worship.

Because of the more solemn attitude that developed in orthodox and conservative churches, many Christians today are reticent to show such emotion. However, this does not mean that they lack faith. Yet the charismatic attitude toward those who are more subdued in their worship has been to look upon them as "dead" (whatever that means).

It isn't the charismatic desire to be demonstrative that is at issue, however. It is the charismatic tendency to look upon demonstration as liturgical, as if demonstration proved to God a more sincere heart and an aliveness of one's faith. Therefore, they instruct their people to raise their hands and to speak in tongues or other such things.

This instruction is beginning to find its way into Promise Keepers events. At the Portland pastors' conference reference was made to the current "revival" that is sweeping the nation. Of course, the only alleged "revival" that is loudly proclaimed is that which is currently emanating from Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Brownsville, Florida, which has its roots in the "Toronto Blessing," originally a Vineyard phenomenon.

Frank Damazio made a veiled reference to Toronto as the model for revival with the following:

How many of you understand right now in our nation God is moving? You would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to know that there is something going on in America called a little bit of revival. All we need to do is just respond, get involved with God, say, "Yes, Lord. I want to drink. I want to go with it. Do something with me. Don't pass me by. Whatever it takes."

Come on, leaders, we need to drop some of our clergy muss and get into some humility. "Well, you know it came through the Vineyard church down the street, and I don't like the Vineyard." Well, maybe God does. Novel idea. 14

Damazio, stressing the need for revival, stated that revival always begins with the pastor. Where he got that idea is a mystery. Certainly there is no such idea presented in Scripture.

Without regard to the background of the pastors in attendance, Damazio attempted to lead them into a revival mode through charismatic worship:

Come on! Lift your hands with me! Holy Spirit, rain on these leaders right now. Oh, rain! Rain! Fall upon these leaders. Let today be one of the first rains. A time where they fill open heavens in the presence of God, and they would say out loud, "Oh, God, it's been so long since I have felt the enthusiasm. Let the rain begin to fall on me right now. Open my spirit. Open my heart. Oh, rain of God, come! Come! Come!"

Now, do you know how to worship? Do you know how to sing praise? Open your mouth and just begin to sing praise out loud. Try it. Come on, just sing it.

[Singing] Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord, this day. Lord, I lift my voice to you right now.

Come on, men! Open the floodgates!

[Singing) Lord, I lift my voice to you right now. Lord, I praise your name. I praise your name. Let the rain come upon me, Lord. Let the rain come upon my home. Let the rain come upon my ministry right now. I lift up holy hands to a holy God. I open my spirit right now. I open my heart right now. Oh, come Holy Spirit. Oh, visit me; come upon me. Oh, visit me, Lord God. Oh, Jesus. Oh, rain. 15

For the most part the pastors resisted Damazzio's attempt to manipulate their worship. But notice his implication that, unless they worship in this manner, they don't know how to worship. This is characteristic of charismatic arrogance that sees as less spiritual those who do not follow the charismatic emotional method of worship and praise.

Damazzio stressed the belief that revival must come through the pastors or it wouldn't come at all. This self- important arrogance is also characteristic of the ecclesiastical and liturgical "clergy-laity" foundation upon which most churches are built.

Having failed the first time to garner sufficient support for his method Damazzio gave further instructions on how the churches need to enter into the revival atmosphere:

How many of you right now would say, "I tell you what, Brother Frank Damazzio, my church could use a new atmosphere lift"? Come on! Lift your hands! How many would say, "Right now my church can use some new, clean air, charged air, electrified air, expectation air; we need a new breath of God to come into our church"?

Your church needs to know you're preaching for that and believing for that. Changing the air of the church is part of revival building. 16

The problem with the charisma approach is not the desire for revival but the belief that revival can about through a methodology of oppressive worship and praise - by holding up one's hands and demonstrating. Such attempts to conjure the presence of God, or to attempt to get Him move on one's behalf are akin to witchcraft. The difference between true revival and false revival is the origin - the power. If God moves it doesn't take agitated efforts to make people respond. Such efforts are psychological manipulation characteristic of shamanis hysteria.

True revival takes place in the heart through the conviction of the Holy Spirit in response to the Word God. It is not something that can conjured up. It may manifest itself outward expression, but outward expression does not bring about revival.

True revival focuses on obedience to God's Word, not on subjective spiritual teachings and practices, which are the characteristics of today's perceived "revival." The reason Damazzio was unable to get the cooperation he desired is because most of the pastors present resisted the attempt to manipulate them.

Yet while they resisted that tempt they did not in the same numbers resist the appeal for money support Promise Keepers' agenda.

WHERE IS THIS LEADING?

Promise Keepers has been adamant that they have no political agenda. Yet there is a dominionist attitude that permeates the Vineyard leadership. That attitude leans towards the institution of Christian unity that would in effect "Christianize" the world, much as the Roman Catholic Church "Chrisitianized" the nations was able to colonize through the authority of kings.

Scripture gives ample warnings the coming anti-Christ's power this will culminate in the persecution of true believers in Christ Jesus. That power will be vested in the political might of the revived Roman Empire which, today, is represented in Western civilization. In other words, the anti-Christ's spiritual power will hat largely vested in the churches-that Harlot (Roman Catholicism) and her daughters (Protestantism) that will have given him authority over their adherents. To accomplish this there must come about a unity of "Christianity" without regard to doctrine (a Promise Keepers' benchmark). It is through this unity that the remnant of true believers will be persecuted:

They shall put you out of the synagogues [church buildings]: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:2-3)

This was fulfilled in first-century apostate Israel, and it will be fulfilled again in the last-century apostate church. For it is necessary that unity be established in order that the evil one may have his way. The Revelation speaks of the blood of those who are slain for their testimony in the last days. This is not speaking of the nominal church member who blindly allows the pastor to do his thinking for him, and submits without question to the traditions and practices of his church. Most Christians, nominal and otherwise, want peace and happiness; they are not overtly evil people. But many, as have others before them, will succumb to the belief that for peace and happiness to prevail, the dissenters will have to be "dealt with" by whatever means necessary.

Does this mean that Promise Keepers is consciously working for the anti-Christ's agenda? Not at all. These are well-meaning people who are deluded into thinking they hear the voice of God to establish a mandate for unity among the churches. Their theology is so weak and their commitment to sound doctrine so shallow that they cannot see the direction in which they are headed. And those who attempt to warn them they count as their enemies.

DECISION TIME

With all these considerations there is a fundamental question which demands an answer from all pastors who desire to follow the pied piper of Vineyard leadership through Promise Keepers: Is Promise Keepers God's instrument to bring about unity among the churches as they claim? For if they are, then all pastors must submit to Promise Keepers' agenda. To fail to do so would be disobedience to God. No pastor can escape the consequences for failing to follow Promise Keepers' lead. In fact, if they are God's voice to the churches, then everything they teach and practice must be adhered to by all believers. And to resist Promise Keepers would be to resist God. A sobering thought.

By the same token, if Promise Keepers is not God's instrument for unity, then those pastors who follow them and support them are supporting a lie. They are being disobedient to God inasmuch as they are allowing a cult-like allegiance to ungodly leadership that is operating under the delusion that God has spoken to them personally to give them a mandate to disciple the churches. In essence, Promise Keepers leadership would be classified as liars, deceivers and false prophets. Those who follow them, even to a small degree, are at best giving credibility to an organization that is usurping God's authority. At worst, they are giving credibility to an instrument of demonic deception that comes in the name of Jesus Christ.

If this seems simplistic, it really isn't. For there are no other possibilities. One cannot "eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds" when it comes to spiritual truth and authority. Whenever anyone makes a claim to speak for God that person's claim must be tested by the Word of God. And not only the claim, but the overall beliefs and practices of those making the claim must be tested by the Word of God.

CONCLUSION

To summarize, Promise Keepers has now openly claimed to have a mandate from God which requires all churches to place themselves under Promise Keepers' leadership. A mandate from God is not merely a suggestion; it is an order. And to willfully disobey an order from God is rebellion. Consequently, all pastors who do not submit to Promise Keepers' leadership are in open rebellion against God.

If, on the other hand, Promise Keepers' does not have a mandate from God, then their claim is based either on a delusion or it is a deliberate deception.

If it is based on a delusion, Promise Keepers has proven itself unworthy to lead the churches since its leadership cannot distinguish between the voice of God, a mental image of human origin, or mental image of demonic origin. It doesn't matter how much "good" they may lay claim to; they are attempting to establish themselves as authorities over God's Church without God's permission.

If their claim is based on deception, there is no argument that can justify following after them. In either case, whether a delusion or a deception, those pastors who lead their flocks into Promise Keepers agenda are failing their "calling."

So for you pastors who have either resisted Promise Keepers or who have followed them, you must determine whether or not Promise Keepers' claim to apostolic headship is valid. Once you make that determination you must decide whether or not to follow or to resist. Your decision will not only have eternal consequences for you, but also for those you lead.

We make no veiled attempt at suggesting that there is any more than one valid option. That option is to resist the temptation to surrender your sovereignty for the sake of some outwardly perceived results of good works.

If you are faithful in sacrificing your religious ambitions for the sake of those who have entrusted their eternal destiny to your care you will receive that promised imperishable crown on that great day when our Chief Shepherd shall appear (1 Peter 5:4).

NOTES

1. "Promise Keepers Prepares for 19 Conferences in Spite of Cash-flow Crisis," The Promise Keeper, Vol.1, No.2., Mar/Apr 1998 (Denver: Promise Keepers), p.2.

2. Ibid.

3. Bill McCartney, "Vision 2000," speech at Pastors' Conference, Portland, OR, March 10,1998.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Crawford loritts "Embracing Your Call As Leaders of Men," speech at Pastors' Conference, Portland, OR, March 10, 1998.

10. Rick Kingham "Vital Prayer Partnerships," speech at Pastors' Conference, Portland, OR, March 10, 1998.

11. Ibid.

12. Bill McCartney, "Vision 2000," speech at Pastors' Conference, Portland, OR, March 10, 1998.

13. Ibid.

14. Frank Damazzio "Preparing for Revival in Your Church," speech at Pastors' Conference, Portland, OR, March 1998.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.