Promise Keepers – Part 2
(February 1995 – Volume 1, Issue 4)
Paul warns Timothy that a time would come when people would seek teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear. PK is just such an organization.
Our last newsletter dealt with the fast growing movement known as Promise Keepers. We praise PK for its goal of producing godly men. But we are greatly concerned with its view of sanctification. Scripture clearly teaches that godly people (we find no distinction in the Biblical instructions for men or women — we both grow through the same means) mature as they feed on the Word of God (I Pet 2:2).We become adequate and equipped for every good work as we allow the Word to change us (II Tim 3:15-4:3). In the context of this last passage Paul warns Timothy of the time coming when people will seek teachers that give them what they want to hear. Unhappily, we believe that PK is just such an organization. The spirit of the age is ecumenical. The battle cry in most Christian circles is that we must lay down our differences and get together. Never mind that great doctrinal differences stand in the way. We must abandon those doctrines and embrace one another as brothers. This is the foundational philosophy behind PK. Of course, just a superficial reading of the NT would show that this was never the emphasis of the Holy Spirit. Virtually every mention of bad theology brings righteous anger out of the Apostles (e.g. I John 4:1-6; Titus 1:10-16; II Pet 2:1-22; etc.). Hyped-up emotions and warm fuzzies do not make godly men. It is the truth of God’s Word, through the instrument of the Holy Spirit that does. The spirit of the church today is also highly charismatic. It is estimated by knowledgeable people that over 50% of those who claim to be evangelical believers are charismatic. And many who would never claim that title have, nevertheless, adopted the charismatics’ mystical view of Christianity. As a result, those who should know better no longer have the discernment to understand the danger of the charismatic position. For example, charismatics (of whatever stripe or wave) all believe in extrabiblical revelation. God is still speaking to us in various forms, and thus we are free to adjust our Bibles (and our lives) according to the latest prophecy, word of knowledge, or mystical response to any hunch that is interpreted as God’s voice. If you doubt this, read with discernment the Fall 1994 issue of Leadership Magazine that is dealing with the subject of “intimacy with God.” There can be little doubt that charismatic/mystical Christianity has taken over the evangelical ranks.
Another alarming fad in evangelical Christianity, as well as PK, is the infiltration of psychology. During the past twenty years, one of the greatest sellouts in church history has taken place. We have bought the lie that the Scriptures are sufficient for only spiritual and a few minor problems of living. But if we are faced with real problems we must turn to human wisdom found in psychology. Never mind that such nonsense is blatantly unscriptural (Ps 1:1-3; II Pet 1:3; etc.); it is the mood of the moment within the church. And PK is loaded with this philosophy.
Many of those who are giving direction and promotion to PK are so-called Christian psychologists. James Dobson, Gary Smalley, Gary Oliver, Larry Crabb, Robert Hicks, Jim Smoke and John Trent would head the list. Have you ever wondered where the Christian psychologists go to church, or what they believe concerning God and the Bible? Is the theological foundation of such men of no importance? Yet, we never hear of such things. Why? Because we have developed (or swallowed) a two-sided Christianity. On the one side is Christ and certain Biblical teachings. On the other side is secular psychology, baptized by a few Bible verses. This is the side that Christians in need are gravitating toward today. And so, it is only natural that PK be built upon a psychological foundation. After all, we can never agree on doctrine, but somehow we can agree on unproven psychological theories. PK, however, has moved beyond the typical evangelical acceptance of psychology. They have taken a rather extreme position, one which should have raised red flags all across America at their 1993 conference. For it was at this rally that all who attended were given Robert Hicks book, The Masculine Journey. This volume is so obviously unscriptural that many thought that PK must have made a mistake in its early days, one which they would correct now. But they were wrong, for PK has just issued a seven-page report in support of the book. So the following comments are made with the understanding that PK stands behind Hicks.
THE MASCULINE JOURNEY
“I am often amazed at how God sometimes uses secular sources to communicate His truth better than Christian ones.” R. Hicks
The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks, is a classic example of what passes for Biblical teaching in many circles today. Rather than turning to the Bible for truth, Hicks finds a concept in a secular book, then goes to the Scriptures to see if he can find someway to support that concept. Failing at that, he forces the Scriptures to mean whatever he wants in order to accomplish his purpose. He then passes off his views to unsuspecting, and apparently ungrounded believers, who swallow every line. Hicks’ book is built on the premise (not found in Scripture and unproven in research) that men pass through (or at least ought to) six stages of life. This theory did not emerge from the study of Scripture, but from secular psychologist Daniel Levinson’s book, The Seasons of a Man’s Life. Hicks then identifies six Hebrew words that he believes dovetails with Levinson’s teachings. No Bible scholar would agree with Hicks’ exegesis but that does not stop PK from endorsing his book. Hicks says that males were meant to pass through the following stages: Noble savage; phallic (sexual); warrior; wounded; maturity; and mentor. Since Hicks develops his thoughts through a combination of personal experience, psychological theories, and Biblical principles. his views are a mixture of a great deal of error mixed with just enough truth to deceive poorly taught Christians. Space does not permit a thorough critique of The Masculine Journey, but we will attempt to point out a few of the more obvious areas of concern:
- Hicks’ primary resources are secular psychologists, etc. His book is full of references to Freud, Jung, Levinson, Margaret Meed, Gail Sheehy, etc.
- Hicks all but glorifies war and violence that is characteristic of the warrior stage. In addition, he does not recognize the element of pride that is behind much of this conflict. For example, he says with approval, “To be a male warrior is to be characterized by strength, competing to be superior, using one’s energy to be prominent, or vying to be important or to gain significance” (p77). The believer might think of James 4:1-3 in light of such a statement.
- Borrowing from Robert Bly (secular men’s movement leader) and Carl Jung (demon-possessed contemporary of Freud), Hicks claims that, “In order for men to discover what manhood is all about, they must descend into the deep places of their own souls and find their accumulated grief” (p99). Nowhere in Scripture is anything like this taught but it has become a fad, thanks to the writings of Larry Crabb (see Inside Out).
- Hicks apparently has a low view of Scripture. The most blatant example of this if found on page 114: “I call the Psalms of David the musings of a manic-depressive.” The Holy Spirit would be impressed with such a statement!
- He clearly softpedals sin. In an interesting paragraph concerning “Christian” homosexuals, Marxists, and Catholics that he has known, rather than confronting such people he confesses, “I have learned that the way to look at God or the world is not necessarily through the lens or categories I currently believe are the correct ones” (p134). In an incredible statement on page 177 Hicks says, “I’m sure many would balk at my thought of celebrating the experience of sin. I’m not sure how we could do it. But I do know we need to do it. For, example, we usually give the teenagers in our churches such a massive dose of condemnation regarding their first experience with the police, or their first drunk, or their first experience… with sex or drugs. Maybe we could look upon this as a teachable moment and a rite of passage. Is this putting a benediction on sin? Of course not, but perhaps at this point the true elders could come forward and confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being human” (p177). Unbelievable!
- He has an almost blasphemous view of Christ. He claimed that Jesus experienced homosexual temptation (p181). A careful study of Rom 1:18ff would reveal his mistake here.
- He makes numerous erroneous statements about male sexuality. Claiming that the second stage of manhood is the phallus (penis) stage (p48), Hicks goes on to state, “The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication” (p51). And, “Improper teaching on phallus will drive men into sexual sins because their spiritual God-hunger is not satisfied. Sexual energy is essentially spiritual” (p55). Again, “Our sexual problems only reveal how desperate we are to express, in some perverted form, the deep compulsion to worship with our phallus”( p56).
DISDAIN FOR DOCTRINE
PK’s stated purpose is to move men toward Christ-like masculinity. But PK does not understand how to do this. Maturity is not developed through pep rallies, psychological teachings, and sharing. It is developed though the application of the truth of God’s Word (i.e. doctrine). However, to PK doctrine divides, and should be shunned. Their philosophy is well stated by Robert Hicks, “I am often amazed at how God sometimes uses secular sources to communicate His truth better than Christian ones” (p162). But you cannot create godliness by going around the Word of God and seeking out the latest pop-wisdom of men. This is Promise Keeper’s great error.