PROMISE KEEPERS: WHY PROMISE KEEPERS MUST BE JUDGED BY THE WORD OF GOD
PART ONE OF A SERIES
IS IT EVER RIGHT TO JUDGE
AND RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS?
By Wayne Camp
TEXTS: Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
Proverbs 21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
I have recently received many letters from Promise Keepers or their supporters. Since their march on Washington, it seems they have become very aggressive in searching out those who have opposing views to theirs and targeting them. Some have been very hateful in their letters as may be seen in our Bouquets and Brickbats this time.
There is one theme that runs through most of the letters. They oppose most, if not all, judging of others who claim to be Christians. They especially would deny my right and responsibility to put their movement with its doctrines and practices on the scales and weigh it against the teachings of the Word of God. Many of these folks admit there are serious flaws in the PKs movement. But, they are not willing to judge, try, or discern the truth about the movement.
It occurred to me recently while driving along that a person who aligns himself with a seriously flawed organization but is unwilling to examine that movement in the light of Gods Word is using Jesus warning to not judge as a cop-out. They willingly ignore the many instructions in Scripture to judge and cleave to this one statement because they are unwilling to take a stand for truth and are willing to compromise with error in the name of love, not being judgmental, and unity. The same identical person who said, "Judge not" also instructed us to "judge righteous judgment."
How do we harmonize these two verses? In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus is warning against a hypocritical judgment where men want to hold others to a certain standard but are unwilling to be judged by the same standard. In John 7:27 Jesus is instructing us to not judge by appearance but to judge righteous judgment. Righteous judgment involves, among other things, judging on the standard of the Word of God. It would also involve being willing to submit to the same standard of judgment by the Word.
I assure you that I will be willing for any Promise Keeper to take the doctrines and practices which we teach and which I preach at Pilgrims Hope Baptist Church and judge them in the light of the Word of God. It appears to me that the unwillingness of most PKs to have that organization and its leaders subjected to such judgment by the teachings of Gods Word is an admission that it could not stand that test.
Because I am being attacked by PKs for trying the spirits which control that movement, I am, with this issue, beginning a probe into the question, "Is it ever right to judge religious leaders or religious movements?" Some of these folks feel we have no right to judge Promise Keepers because it claims to be a "Christian" organization. There would be no need to judge it if it claimed to be of the world or of the Devil. Since it claims to be of God, we must judge it by the Word of God.
There are several words in the Greek language that have in them the idea of judging. Such words as those translated prove, judge, esteem, try, discern, dispute, contend, examine, enquire, question, reason together, and determine all have within their meaning the work of judging. In the three verses I have used for our texts, we are warned to not judge. In these verses Jesus was speaking of hypocritical judging where one judges another but is not willing to be judged by the same standard.
Again, let me invite any person aligned with PKs to take any of the articles that I have posted on the WebPage of Pilgrims Hope Baptist Church which sets forth our doctrines and examine it, test it by the Word of God, and show me where it is out of harmony with the teachings of the Word of God. I am willing to have what I write and the doctrines I hold judged by the same standard I am using in judging the doctrines and practices of PKs. I readily give an account for what I believe and preach and why I do so.
While there are warnings against judging if not agreeable to submitting to the same standard of judgment, in another of our texts, the wise man Solomon tells us, "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." And, in our fourth text, using the same Greek word as he used in the verses from Matthew 7 and Luke 6, Jesus tells us to judge with righteous judgment. Is there a contradiction here? Absolutely not!
In our fifth text Amos gives Israel a prescription for obtaining the Lords blessings. Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. Three things were necessary.
First, they must hate evil. Their worship of God had deteriorated into error and they were also into idolatry. Yes, this evil worship they must hate.
Second, they must love the good. They must love truth and the proper way of worshipping God. This would require that they put away all false worship, be it of Jehovah or false gods.
Third, they must establish judgment in the gate. They had apparently abandoned judgment in the gate. When someone came along with a new god to worship, or an innovation for the worship of Jehovah, they were not willing to judge that or, apparently, any other matter. They had torn down the walls of denominationalism and sought unity at any price. Note that Amos did not tell them to merely raise their degree of judgment; he told them to establish judgment. They were totally non-judgmental. No! Not totally! They judged Amos as unworthy to speak in the kings chapel and wanted him to go back to his gathering of sycamore fruit and following the sheep.
In this series of messages we are to going explore this question Is It Ever Right To Judge Religious Leaders And Religious Movements? As I mentioned before, I have been repeatedly rebuked for judging the Promise Keepers movement. One wrote, "You have set yourself up as a judge when we are called to discern, not judge!"
Two things are very interesting about this statement. First, to discern IS to judge. The word comes from the same root word as does judge and one of its definitions is "to judge." When this writer calls on me to discern and admits that I have a right and a responsibility to discern, he calls on me to judge and, thereby admits what he forbids. One does not need to know Greek to know this. The very first synonym my Unabridged Websters gives for discernment is judgment. To exercise discernment is to exercise judgment. One cannot discern without judging for judging is discerning.
The second thing I thought interesting in this letter is the fact that his charge that I had set myself up as judge followed his saying, "Your work is filled with lies and half truths as well as hate and I suspect jealousy." Earlier he had written, "I felt the hate in your heart for those brothers, believers who are more charismatic in their worship." Later in his letter he wrote, "You need to fall to your knees and ask Christ forgiveness for your unchecked ego, hate, jealousy and spiritual pride and conceit." It seems to me that he is judging me very harshly as he rebukes me for judging PKs. In the articles I have written I have sought to judge the PKs by their doctrines and practices, not the men personally. This young man attacked and judged me personally. He judged me to be jealous of Promise Keepers which is an out and out lie. He judged me to hate them. I hate their way because it is a false way and it is scriptural and right to hate every false way. What is ludicrous is the fact that this writer accused me of having "unchecked ego, hate, jealousy and spiritual pride and conceit." He has judged me much more harshly than I have judged any individual PK.
This is representative of a number of letters which I have received from PKs who have read the articles on our HomePage on the Internet and have written concerning them. To the Promise Keepers, there is only one position on judging. "Dont you dare judge the PKs movement, their leaders, their doctrines, their alliances, their speakers or anything or anybody associated with them." The only Scriptures they know on judging are these: Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. And, they take these out of context and make them apply to all judging of others or their doctrines and practices.
THE NEED FOR JUDGMENT AND DISCERNMENT
In this article I want to consider one aspect of the question which I have posed as we look at the fact that there is a real need for judgment and discernment, especially with this tremendously popular movement.
Since, as this series of articles are developed, I will especially zero in on the popular mens movement called Promise Keepers, I will give several reasons why this movement needs to be subjected to judgment by discerning Christians.
First, Promise Keepers is a relatively new movement. It was founded in AD 1990. It is not yet ten years old. It is strange that God was able to carry out his work for almost six centuries of human history without the Promise Keepers movement and without so much as a mention of it in his Word. The only prophecies of new religious movements found in Scripture are warnings of false teachers, false apostles, false churches, and false movements that would come. Iain Murray quotes an old Puritan writer as saying, "The devil does not allow the wind of error to blow long in the same direction" (Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism, Preface, P. xiii). It is no wonder that Satan is always finding new avenues and movements through which he can peddle his error. The wind of error must find new directions in which to blow. Since there is no prophecy of a movement that would be of God coming into being in the last days, we are forced to conclude that this movement that came into existence in 1990 is not of God.
Almost two thousand years ago the first church of the Lord Jesus Christ was established on this earth. A promise of perpetual existence was given to the Lords churches. Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. That church and its successors were commissioned to go into all the world preaching the Word, baptizing converts, and teaching those converts. To that first local church and her successors the promise was given, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20). Compared to the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, PKs is very new and any new religious movement that comes along should be tried by the Word of God.
Second, Promise Keepers must be judged carefully because it is never mentioned in Scripture; it is without biblically authorized existence. I can read about the family in Scripture and affirm that the family is an institution of Divine ordination. I can read about the ordination of Israel as Gods chosen nation in Scripture. I can read about the church in Scripture and know that it is of Divine ordination. But, I can search from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation and can find not one word about the PKs movement as a movement ordained by God. It is simply not there; it is nowhere to be found in Scripture. There is no biblical authorization for this movement. Therefore, it should be tried by the Word of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Third, Promise Keepers must be tried or judged by the Word of God because it is suspect in its origin. It was spawned out of the radical Pentecostal group, the Vineyard. This group gives many evidences of demonic activity. In some services people are known to roar like lions, cackle like hens, bark like dogs, and giggle wildly. There is nothing in Scripture for such activity in the name of Christ. It is of the Devil. And, it is out of such a movement that PKs was spawned. Bill McCartney, a former Catholic who has never renounced Catholicism, is a member of the Vineyard. He and his pastor are most often mentioned as founders of this movement.
Fourth, Promise Keepers because its founder is of questionable character. PKs was founded by a man and any religious organizaiton founded by man is suspect. PKs was founded by a man who, by his own admission, was not keeping his promises to his own family during at least the first three years of the life of Promise Keepers. He was calling on men to make and keep promises which he was not keeping himself. To say the least, a hypocrite is not a very good founder for any group.
The first church on this earth was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ. The founder of that first church and its successors was without sin. There was no guile or hypocrisy in his mouth. They had to hire false witnesses against him and that was even difficult. Pilate declared that he found no fault with him. I will place the church founded on the Lord Jesus Christ above all other organizations upon the earth, even the home. Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Contrariwise, Promise Keepers was founded by a man or men and is of man and for man. Any religious movement founded since the personal ministry of Christ has no grounds for claiming to be of Christ. This organization called Promise Keepers was founded by the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong place and out of the wrong source to be the movement it claims for itselfa organization ordained of God. Its foundation is worse than sand.
Fifth, the doctrinal ambiguity of Promise Keepers is grounds for judging them. They have changed their doctrine at times in their short 7 year history. Only recently there has been a good deal about a change they made in an effort to placate Roman Catholic leaders. The change was slight but it was a change made to appeal to men who objected to the idea that salvation was in Christ only. The truth is, PKs disdain doctrine. More than one PK has rebuked me for my emphasis on doctrine. One claimed that Christianity was not doctrine.
On the other hand, the faith and doctrine held by true New Testament churches is "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). It is not to be altered. It is settled forever in the eternal Word of God which is settled forever in heaven. We proclaim it; we contend for it; but we do not change it. An organization which has an evolving doctrine which is changed and upgraded or downgraded from time to time is declaring by that very fact that it does not have the faith once delivered to the saints.
Sixth, Promise Keepers object strenuously to being judged by the teachings of the Word of God. I have mentioned before that one theme that is found in many of the letters I have received is that I should not judge this movement. Their resistance to being tried by the Word of God is, in itself, reason to subject them to judgment. Peter admonished that we always be ready to give reason for our hope. PKs do not want to be subjected to a scriptural scrutiny. They do not want to be judged because they know when weighed on the balances with Gods holy Word they will come up short.
Seventh, the popularity of Promise Keepers is evidence we need to submit the movement to judgment by the principles of the Word of God. When PKs write to me and argue the popularity of the movement as grounds for believing it is of God, I am reminded that Jesus said, "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). The immense popularity of Promise Keepers with so many men of such varied backgrounds and doctrinal positions makes it a suspect organization in these last days when there is so much pseudo Christianity.
Eighth, the approval and support of Promise Keepers from so many sources and men of such varied character and qualifications is grounds for being suspicious and therefore, for judging this group. They have been approved by President Clinton who is hardly qualified to judge the Scripturalness of any group. They have been approved by Louis Farakhan, who claims to be Jesus Christ. They have been approved by the leaders of the Mormons, by Catholic leaders, by the new evangelical, Billy Graham, and by many other religious leaders. It is well-spoken of by talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, and the Black Avenger. Again I am reminded of the words of Jesus when he said, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Lu. 6:26).
The words of Jesus speak again of the danger of wide acceptance of any movement or person by all manner of men. John 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Again John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. And once more, 1 John 4:5-6 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. The identity of the spirit of truth and the spirit of error is found by discerning how a movement is received by the world in general. If the world is receiving it, it is because it is speaking the language the world wants to hear and because it is of the world, and not of God. Micah 2:11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people. .
When Ahab sought an alliance with the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, in going against an enemy, he called in 400 prophets and sought their opinion. Every one of them gave approval to the plan of Ahab. 1 Kings 22:6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. When they called in the true prophet of God, he warned that Ahab would be killed. Four hundred gave approval; one warned of their error and that Ahab would die that day. Micaiah was maligned and imprisoned for his lonesome stand. But, in the end of the day, he was proven right and the error of the 400 was revealed. Wide acceptance and popular acclaim by many different people should serve as a warning to Promise Keepers that they are in error, not that they are of God with the message of God.
This wide acceptance and approval of PKs is sufficient reason for our submitting it to a judging by the Word of God. The more PKs supporters defend it on the ground of its wide acceptance and its immense popularity, the more it behooves discerning Christians to try it by the Word of God and discover if it is of the world because loved by the world. If it is of God it will be hated by the world. Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
It is not out of jealousy that I write this for I can assure you I am not jealous of one person in PKs. I have no desire to be a part of this movement. I have no desire to have the miserable family life of Bill McCartney, the promise breaker. And I have no desire to condone the heresy of many of its speakers and leaders. Jealousy does not fuel my writing; a love of the truth and hatred of error does. Psalm 119:127-128 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Ninth, the seductive nature of PKs is reason to judge that movement. I have been amazed at some of the people who have been drawn into this movement. I have received letters from some who are members of the movement founded by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, the "Church of Christ." Most of those in this movement have always contended that one is only saved if a member of their church. Some of their leaders have even argued that entering into the membership of any other church was mortal sin and those who did so and remained till death would be eternally doomed and damned in hell. But, some of these folks have been seduced by Promise Keepers. I have heard from some who have gone into this movement in spite of the stand their church has always taken heretofore on such organizations. Such is that movements seducing spirit. Paul warned of the seductive nature of false religions. 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. Jesus also warned of the ability of false teachers to seduce. Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. John wrote some warnings against false teachers and explained that one of the reasons for doing this was the seductive spirit of false teachers. 1 John 2:26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. Any movement that so widely appeals to such a cross section of the religious world is suspect and must be tried by the Word of God.
Tenth, Promise Keepers call to break down all denominational walls and barriers is a warning signal that tells discerning Christians there is a need for judgment here. I am an Independent, Sovereign Grace Baptist. I believe doctrines on which I cannot and will not compromise for some facade of unity. I believe that only true believers in Christ should be baptized and I cannot, therefore unionize with Catholics and other baby-baptizers in a pretended unity. I hold that salvation is by grace through faith and through Jesus Christ only and cannot unionize with any who hold that Mary is a Mediatrix between man and Christ and God. I cannot unionize with any who hold that Mary is a co-redemptress with Christ.
I hold to the local nature of the New Testament church. I do not believe that there exists such a universal body as "the church." I am told by many correspondents from PKs that my criticism of PKs divides the "body" of Christ which is the church. They claim PKs is part of the "church." If I support PKs, I must abandon the doctrine of the local church only and adopt the doctrine fo the universal, invisible church also. I cannot unionize with any who hold to salvation by works or merits. In Promise Keepers there are those who hold such untenable positions. Promise Keepers, in calling for the felling of denominational barriers, call for me to abandon such doctrines that separate. After all, denominational barriers are doctrinal in nature. If the denominational walls are broken down, the doctrinal foundation upon which those walls stand must be destroyed Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? .
Any who claim denominational barriers can be destroyed without destroying the doctrines which erected those walls and upon which those walls stand is only lying to himself and others. I repeat, to destroy the denominational barriers that separate WILL AND MUST destroy the distinctive doctrines which erected those walls. While claiming to be friends and supporters of local churches, the Promise Keepers movement is actually an enemy for it would destroy the doctrines of the local churches in order to amalgamate all into one doctrinal unity. Many true and biblical doctrines must be adulterated to achieve the unity sought by PKs.
I repeat, denominational barriers are doctrinal distinctions. Destroy the barriers and, of necessity, you must destroy the doctrines which serve as the very foundation of those walls for two cannot walk together except they be in agreement. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? The call and cry of Promise Keepers is to tear down the walls of denominational distinctness. Thus, it is a call and cry to destroy or abandon doctrinal distinctives. Any movement that calls for this must and should be tried, proved, judged by the distinctive doctrines of the Word of God.
Eleventh, obedience to the commands of Scripture require us to judge the Promise Keepers by the Word of God. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. We are admonished to try, to judge the spirits because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Those who are simple may accept them without question but prudence requires that we examine them. Proverbs 14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
CONCLUSION TO PART ONE
Shortly after their march on Washington, Promise Keepers began an aggressive attempt to intimidate pastors and others who did not and do not support their movement. Our articles on PKs had been posted on the Internet for several months before that event and I had heard very little of an unfavorable nature. Since the march on Washington, I have been bombarded with letters rebuking and demeaning me for posting them. Some of these letters would fall into the category of hate mail. Some have even resorted to profanity. I have shared some of these letters with some brethren and they have warned me to watch my back, some even suggested that I might need to arm myself.
I refuse to be intimidated. I do not say that arrogantly but in what I pray is holy boldness. I refuse to be fearful or anxious. This series of articles which I am now writing were inspired by these attacks. I figure I am hitting some sore spots and weak spots of this organization or they would not be targeting me as an object of their campaign to get rid of the opposition.
I must also add that I have received mail from some who have been considering getting into PKs but after reading our articles decided it was not for them. One person from Australia was convinced the movement was, as I have said, a tool of Satan to deceive and seduce.
I commit these messages to God who will use them as he sees fit. I pray they may be used to deliver others from the clutches of this seductive movement.
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Last updated on Friday, March 04, 2011