A Biblical Look At "Promise
Copyright © 2000, All Rights reserved by Walter Robinson II
Courtesy of Last Chance Ministries (www.lastchanceministries.com)
NOTE: The bulk of this document is a revision of what was originally
in one of our prayer letters, The Robinsons Herald, for October to
I must preface this document by saying some things up front. I
have no personal grievances with people who are; Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic,
in various denomination churches, ecumenical, etc. I have found that such are no worse or
better than any who hold to other spiritual persuasionsincluding those of my own. In
fact, I have friends and acquaintances with many who are in some of the afore mentioned
groupsand even more. My focus of attention is directed toward postulated
Christian perspectives and teachings that run contrary to what I believe is
Biblical. There may be times when I will address the questionable practices and activities
of various individuals who have made claims to being Christians, but I will not engage in
attacking individuals' character.
As mentioned in the Current Work page in the
section entitled "About The Founder" of LCM, early in 1997 I authored, produced,
and self-published fifty copies of my second book, Apollos Revival. In
this book I revealed the historical origin, dogma, and practices of the modern Pentecostal
and Charismatic movements. I also took the same investigative look into Roman Catholicism
and the modern ecumenical movement, which actually began with the Church of Rome also.
The release of Apollos Revival has prompted
dialogue among some believers about some issues, including a religious movement known as
"Promise Keepers" (PK), which focuses on a ministry to men. In this document I
will refer to an article that appeared in Our Sunday Visitor (OSV)1, which is actually a Roman Catholic weekly newspaper. This
article focused on PK from a Catholic perspective. It is an eye-opener.
I have communicated with a number of believers who claim to share my
biblical perspectives and have actually attended PKs meetings. They usually limit
their conversation about the so-thought "good work" of PK. They also assure me
that PKs speakers shared the "gospel of salvation by grace." They consider
PK people as coworkers in the faith and they often assert that believers like those with
whom I cooperate should be willing to work with them.
But is this actually so? Does PK really proclaim the gospel of
salvation by grace through faith"apart from works"? As I believe
you will soon see, this group fails this crucial test.
Salvation By Grace Alone?
Simply because one claim that they believe "salvation is by grace
through faith" does not necessarily mean they believe salvation is granted without
works, which is true Biblical grace.
Roman Catholics, as reflected in the beliefs of Augustine of Hippo,
believe they are "being saved" by grace. But, they believe this grace can only
be received by partaking of the sacraments of the churchwhich includes water baptism
and celebrating the mass. They also believe practicing good deeds, confession,
offering prayers and devotion to dead saints and Mary, and even church membership are all
needed to help them be saved.2 All true
Catholics are also adamant about being able to receive grace through works.
What the article in OSV said about this issue is very enlightening about the Roman
Yet, profound differences remained between the evangelicals of Promise
Keepers and Catholics who were sympathetic. Last year, Promise Keepers published a
"statement of faith" with lines that seemed to be crafted to exclude
Catholicsor force them to reject their Catholic faith.
Section five of the Promise Keepers credo reads: "We believe that
man was created in the image of God, but because of sin, was alienated from God. That
alienation can be removed only by accepting, through faith alone, Gods gift of
salvation, which was made possible by Christs death."
"Faith alone" is a key doctrine of the Protestant
Reformation. Though the phrase appears nowhere in Scripture, it was inserted by Martin
Luther into his German translation of the Bible.
The Biblical passage under discussion actually is as follows:
8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should
boast. (Ephesians 2:89 KJV)
The author of the above excerpted article in OSV was technically
correct in his claim that the phrase "faith alone" is not in the Bible. The
original Greek of verse eight instead contains the phrases that are properly translated,
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." But, verse
eight continues on into verse nine to add, "not of works, lest any man should
boast." Taken in proper context the passages clearly teach that salvation is
obtainable only by Biblical grace, which is merited only by faith (i.e.,
taking God at His word [Romans 10:17]), and not by anything in any ones own
The overall teaching of the Holy Scripture repeatedly affirms this
position. For instance, Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." To
make sure that He would not be misunderstood, the Holy Spirit also inspired Paul to write;
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of
debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:45)
What the Bible says about salvation being by grace that is merited by
faith apart from works can be misunderstood only by not reading it. Obviously, one can
choose not to believe it, or perhaps even ignore it if they wish, but that does not change
the true teaching of scripture.
Because of the concern expressed to PK by Catholics over this issue,
the author of the OSV article was happy to report
Early this year, Promise Keepers revised the statement in a way that
passed theological muster with those Catholics: "Only through faith, trusting in
Christ alone for salvation, which was made possible by His death and resurrection, can
that alienation be removed."3
Official Roman Catholic Doctrine about Grace and
Regardless of how it may sound to some, the above statement cannot mean
salvation is granted apart from works, for this is the issue that upset Catholics and
prompted its revision in the first place. Instead the word "gift" has been
dropped and the remaining is worded to limit salvation to being by "faith." For
Roman Catholics, faith is believing whatever their church says about salvationwhich
claims works are necessary. Consider the following excerpts taken from a booklet of
stated doctrines that is officially sanction by the Church of Rome:
9. What is faith?
Faith is a supernatural gift of God, which enables us to believe without doubting whatever
God has revealed.
11. How are you to know what God has revealed?
I am to know what God has revealed by the testimony, teaching, and authority of the
135. Will Faith alone save us?
Faith alone will not save us without good works: we must also have Hope and Charity.
140. How must we obtain Gods grace?
We must obtain Gods grace chiefly by prayer and the holy Sacraments.
249. What is a Sacrament?
A Sacrament is an outward Sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ, by which grace is
given to our souls.
252. Ought we have a great desire to receive the Sacrament?
We ought to have a great desire to receive the Sacraments, because they are the chief
means of our Salvation.
256. What is Baptism?
Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children
of God, and members of the Church.
261. Is Baptism necessary for salvation?
Baptism is necessary for salvation, because Christ has said: Unless a man be born
again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God . . . 4
The revision of PKs "statement of faith" is a natural
consequence of engaging in cross-doctrinal ecumenism. It is no skin off Satans nose
to credit such ventures with some goodbut likely temporalbenefits and
experiences in order to pervert the true gospel. Paul condemned such in the strongest
6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that
called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another;
but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert [metastrevyai,
lit. to turn around] the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an
angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto
you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:68)
Just as with this issue involving PK, Paul also encountered those who
believed "faith alone" was insufficient for salvation;
1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the
brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot
be saved. (Acts 15:1)
Concerning these who were perverting the gospel, Paul was inspired to
respond by writing;
5To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour;
that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. . . . 16Knowing that a
man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we
have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not
by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Galatians 2:5, 16)
Continuing with the theme of arguing for salvation by grace as opposed
to being by works, Paul also warned . . .
7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey
the truth? 8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:79)
In spite of all the above being said about salvation being a free gift
offered by grace through faith, PK dropped the word "gift" (i.e., grace)
from their statement of faith. They also continue to bend to please Roman Catholics. The
same article carried in OSV also stated;
While there are no hard figures, some say that 1020 percent of
those men [attending PK meetings] are Catholic. And, recently, Promise Keepers, a largely
evangelical movement, has taken steps to attract even more Catholic men to its events and
principles of discipleship.
At its March meeting, Promise Keepers board of
directors welcomed Mike Timmis as a new member. A Detroit-area lawyer and businessman,
Timmis is a longtime leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal.
At several rallies this year, Promise Keepers has
spotlighted Catholic evangelist Jim Berlucchi as a speaker.
As a Catholic evangelist, Berlucchi would preach the official Catholic
"gospel" that claims works is necessary for earning salvation.
The true gospel is the scriptural story of how Jesus life, death,
and bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) paid the full debt for the sin of the
world. It also claims this was a complete and perfect substitutional sacrifice. (Hebrews
9:12, 28 and 10:1012) This made salvation a gift that can only be received
Consequently, PKs gospel is pervertednot biblicalas
it has been purposefully worded in their adjusted statement of faith. It appears
close, but it is actually "another gospel" (Galatians 1:8) heralding
"another Jesus" (2 Corinthians 11:4) which are compatible with the
teachings of the Church of Rome.
PKs founder, Bill McCartney, had an agenda that included Roman
Catholics from PKs inception. The following was stated in the same OSV article under
Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney told Our Sunday Visitor
recently that full Catholic participation was his intention from the start.
"Back in 1992, at our first stadium event, we very clearly stated
from the podium that we eagerly welcomed the participation of Roman Catholics, and
weve had scores of Roman Catholics attend and go back to their churches excited. . .
The article also reported that "McCartney is a former
Catholic..." who "
was active in Christ the King Association, a Catholic
charismatic community based in Ypsilanti." He was also "associated with the
ecumenical Word of God covenant community" and actually claimed to be a
"born-again Catholic." Since then he has been associated with the "Boulder
Valley Vineyard, which is affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship [VCF]."
VCF is an outgrowth of John Wimbers teaching on the so-called "The Third
Wave" movement of the Holy Spirit, and it has many serious doctrinal problems and
practices. The article also said;
Still, as recently as 1995, McCartney was identifying himself privately
as a Catholic and admitting that he still prayed the Rosary. Today, he denies both, though
he praises the information he received as a Catholic.
From its inception PK has been charismatic and ecumenical by nature. It
also has an increasingly strong Roman Catholic influence and inclusive policy by design.
Its doctrinal stance is so broad the "gospel" it officially promotes is
perverted. Nevertheless, I believe most involved with PK sincerely desire to do something
good for the "cause of Christ." But good motives mixed with bad doctrine in
"Jesus Name" will only produce eternal heartache and suffering in the end.
I believe Biblical Christians should avoid participating in PK
activities. This is obviously a matter of personal discernment and choice for many. But as
it pertains to local Bible teaching churches, pastors should become concerned when some in
their congregationsand especially those in leadershipbecome involved with PK.
The same applies to any who get involved in any ministry that utilizes any who embrace
doctrinal error. (See Romans 16:17 and Titus 1:9, 16) Titus 2:78 literally calls for
those who oversee ministry to be uncorrupted in doctrine, and to use right and
accurate words that cannot be criticized! This rules out vaguely worded statements
crafted to facilitate cross-doctrinal cooperation.
Further, cooperating with the likes of PK can actually desensitize
believers to doctrinal error and perversionincluding those practiced by
Charismatics. Thus, believers in general are also admonished . . .
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but
rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Biblical Christians should not "give place by subjection, no, not
for an hour" unto those who pervert the gospel in any way. Nor to those who knowingly
and willfully sit under the influence of those who do. This is necessary to insure
"that the truth of the gospel might continue with" believers. (Galatians 2:5)
But what about the apparent needed ministry to encourage men in the
things of God and family? Why not challenge sound believers to put together local
ministries that are participated in by local churches that are sound in both doctrine and
Such local events would not likely have the large numbers, the
grandeur, the public eye, nor the large coffers that supports PK events. They are even
likely to be persecuted by most religious groups that are excluded from participation as
leaders and speakers. But such has always been the case with Gods true workers doing
His work. (See Ezra 4:15, Acts 16:1624, and 2 Corinthians 4:89)
Yet, bringing men who have not experienced Biblical grace to such events could actually be
instrumental in leading them to true biblical salvation and spiritual growth. This would
include Roman Catholics, some Pentecostals and other Charismatics who also believe that
salvation is imparted by grace that is aided through works (such as water baptism), and
also those in the Church of Christ.
Perhaps most Biblical Christians who frequent PK events are merely
uninformed. Maybe some pastors are also uninformed about the true nature of this
ecumenical and charismatic movement, and by thus have failed to properly inform their
flocks. If that is the case, perhaps this document can help by serving as a primer.
Feel free to copy and distribute this article as needed. I am currently
out of stock on "Apollos Revival," but if enough people contact me
to express and interest in getting a copy I will either produce more copies or perhaps
make it available as a download here on LCM.
Walter Robinson II
1 Our Sunday
Visitor, July 20, 1997, as reproduced in the September 1997 issue of "The Berean
Call," Bend, Oregon.
2 I have
supplied several official statements enumerating Catholic beliefs in Apollos
Revival. My sources were Encyclopedias and official literature that is sanctioned by
the Holy See of Rome.
this statement on October 24, 2000 at Promise Keepers’ official web-site
which was located at
http://www2.promisekeepers.org/sof.htm. At the time of
composing this revised document they had moved their website to another domain, and the
same "Statement of Faith" is now is located at http://www.promisekeepers.org/faqs/core/faqscore22.htm.
The author checked PK’s website on
27, 2003 when converting the downloadable document from RTF to the PDF
standard. We are pleased to report that they have made the following
change to their detailed ‘Statement of Faith.’
“ Salvation is a free gift of God, not of any works we do. We are
justified by faith alone in Christ alone. The moment we believe,
Christ’s righteousness is accounted or imputed to us.”
4 All excerpted
from A Catechism of Christian Doctrines, "Approved by the Archbishops and
Bishops of England and Wales and directed to be used in all their Dioceses. First
published 1889, Revised Edition 1985, London, Catholic Truth Society, Publishers to the
Holy See." Reprinted in Apollos Revival, pp. 6768, by Walter
Robinson II, Copyright 1997.
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