A new pamphlet entitled “Promises, Promises, Promises….”, and recently published by the Southwest Protestant Reformed Church, directs its attention to a timely subject. In this publication, Rev. R. Cammenga evaluates the well-known “Promise Keepers” movement, now sweeping through the United States, from a “distinctively Reformed perspective” (preface). Witnessing the multitude of Christian churches and “reformed” people so enthusiastic about this movement, such a Reformed assessment is a helpful one.
The Promise Keepers movement is a ministry to men, intending to bring thousands of men together “to learn to be better husbands and fathers” (p. 1). The pamphlet begins by acquainting the reader with the movement by giving a history of how it began, explaining the separate branches of the movement in its organization, and pointing to its philosophy by listing the “Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper.”
Rev. Cammenga proceeds to evaluate Promise Keepers from a “Biblical perspective” which takes the form of six basic criticisms. These criticisms, and the fact that they are proven to be true of Promise Keepers, serve to expose this movement for all to see. The Promise Keepers movement is shown to promote unity at the expense of the truth, to be making concessions to Roman Catholicism, to assume duties given only to the instituted church, to be charismatic in nature, to compromise the doctrines of sovereign grace, and to undermine the institution of marriage.
By revealing the Promise Keeper movement’s unbiblical and heretical views, this pamphlet serves to answer the all-important question about Promise Keepers; Is it of God? (p. 4). This question is answered. And missing from the answer is the weak, wavering, uncertain sound. There is no lauding Promise Keepers for its “sincere concern” for family values. There is no weak chastising of the movement for some “bad elements” while at the same time praising it for the “nice things.” Instead there is the clear, trumpet sound of the watchman warning of evil. A movement attributed to our Lord is actually a “tool of Satan” (p. 30).
An implication brought out by the pamphlet is already stated on page 4, “We must be discerning Christians.” In order to discern one must know and understand what God has revealed in the Bible. The temptation is to adhere to that which our parents taught us when children without being convinced for ourselves of its truth as young people. If so, we cannot be discerning any more than those who receive a watered-down gospel.
Discerning, we “try the spirits” whether they are true and do so by comparing them to what the Bible teaches. Undoubtedly, a major factor in why so many people have been deceived by Promise Keepers, is a lack of knowledge. The pamphlet is a reminder of the effort and devotion necessary to be a true discerning Christian. To be able to apply oneself to know God’s Word, only comes from a desire within the heart, for the covenant life of friendship with God through His Word. We see this work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, also the lack of it, and this pamphlet serves as a reminder to ask for it.
Negatively, to be discerning, implies that we do not join ourselves to a movement merely because it flies under the “Christian” banner. To do so is to disregard the biblical warning of false prophets to come, with the instruction to “be not deceived.” Paul, warning Timothy about being deceived (II Tim. 3: 13-15), reveals the only protection against deception:
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
As well as being a help in discerning the truth about such a movement, this critique of Promise Keepers also enables us to help others. Is it not the case sometimes, that we young believers are suspect of a certain belief or movement, yet are unable to pinpoint the fundamental error? This pamphlet helps us in that respect, so that, with some study, we are able to concretely state our objections to this movement and be of help to others who are unable to discern the errors.
The pamphlet also serves to show to us what to expect in the future; the bringing together of all religions into the one religion of the Anti-Christ (p. 29). The deception will only get worse, with the false church leading the way. The next generation is already taught that unity of all religions is the ideal. An article in the July 6 Grand Rapids Press is revealing. In it, a reformed minister is speaking of a Vacation Bible School for children which was put on at his church, and which included children from “divergent Christian faiths.” He states, “This is not just an ecumenical thing, but there’s a big emphasis on breaking down the walls between churches.”
“Promises, Promises, Promises….” is not difficult reading and is in such a format which makes it easy to retain the main points. It serves as an encouragement to continue in the life of fellowship with God, recognizing that through such movements, our Lord is coming. To inquire, write to:
Southwest Prot. Ref. Church
4875 Ivanrest S.W.
Grandville, MI 49418
Jeff is a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.