Article Two in Series on PK Movement

By Wayne Camp

Ezekiel 13:14 So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. (KJV) 


I know of no foundation of any unscriptural movement that is more unstable than the foundation on which the Promise Keepers is built. It is pure quicksand. In the previous issue of TGP&P, I wrote an introductory article on this movement. In this I mentioned spending a good deal of time in bookstores researching the matter to keep from buying the PK books. I finally, however, gave up and bought several so that I would have the evidence at hand, right from the horse’s mouth, as is often said. I could have used that money on better books. But, due to the incredible nature of some of the things taught in the books published for and by this organization, I simply felt it was a necessary investment. Moreover, I want first-hand information, though I could download most of what I will find from the Internet. In fact, I have downloaded many pages. I bought the books so that I could confirm that quotes and charges were correct.

As noted in the title, this article will deal with the origin, alliances and leaders of The Promise Keepers. The foundation of this movement is truly laid on the sand; it is not built on the foundation of the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. The alliances of PKs are truly questionable. We will look at these alliances in some detail next month. The leaders and speakers of promise keepers are an absolutely motley crowd as will be seen in future issues. They range from men who believe in Divine creation to men who believe in theistic evolution. They include men who are wildly charismatic to men that are thoroughly psychological in their approach to Christianity. They have built on a foundation that is sand and daubed their walls with untempered morter. 


"Nothing in the world," he said, chuckling, "could have ever possibly happened worse, in the whole world, than for Promise Keepers—this incredible, significant, undeniably noble movement—to be spawned out of the Vineyard." (The Christian Conscience Web Site, Lynn and Sarah Leslie, Web sight address:

These are the words of James Ryle, the pastor of Bill McCartney, the figurehead leader of Promise Keepers. Ryle is a Promise Keepers Board Member and participant in the founding of this movement. The Vineyard to which he refers is a group of churches called the Association of Vineyard Keepers. Particularly, the Boulder Valley Vineyard in Longmont, Colorado, is the congregation of which McCartney is a member and of which Ryle is pastor. More will be said about Ryle’s doctrinal stance when we look at the leaders of this movement. However, it is important to note now that Ryle boldly confesses that The Promise Keepers was "spawned out of the Vineyard." Ryle has been the pastor of Bill McCartney before and during the formative years of PKs. He is still McCartney’s pastor. As used here the word "spawn" means "to bring forth, to produce." It is therefore the contention of Ryle that the Vineyard produced or brought forth the PKs.

The Dallas/Forth Worth Heritage (June 1995) had an article by Chris Corbett in which he chronicled the connection of the Vineyard movement and Promise Keepers. Corbett wrote,

The Vineyard movement of churches is controversial even within its Pentecostal base. It has been labeled "hyper-Pentecostal" by its detractors, which have included figures such as Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel and evangelist David Wilkerson. Currently, the Vineyard is a major conduit for the "Holy Laughter Movement" in which those said to be filled with the Holy Spirit during a meeting might begin laughing uncontrollably, becoming paralyzed, roar like a lion or howl like a dog.

Dr. A. L Barry, President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, in a letter that was published in full in Christian News, June 10, 1996, wrote to a church member who had asked him about Promise Keepers. In that letter Dr. Barry wrote,

I have watched the PK movement develop. The background of the movement is important for us to understand. It traces its theological roots to the Pentecostal movement. For instance, the magazine of the PK movement features many advertisements from charismatic and Pentecostal organizations. The magazine itself is published by individuals who have been associated with a popular charismatic magazine called Charisma.

James Holly, M. D., has written an excellent article in which he said,

Lacking historical and biblical Christian roots, the leadership of Promise Keepers may have reflected the New Age and Mormon concept of man becoming a God by encouraging men to assume a responsibility which belongs to God. If men can and should be "promise keepers", then they can and should be little gods. This is what Joseph Smith taught, and this is what is taught by some who are embracing Promise Keepers.

Coach Bill McCartney, former head football coach at the University of Colorado, is credited with founding the PK movement. Formerly, McCartney was a Roman Catholic, but had converted to the Vineyard Christian Fellowship and has been a member since before the founding of PKs.  



Since the Vineyard movement is the movement which "spawned" the PK movement, it would be beneficial if we look at the Vineyard movement itself.

This movement was founded by hyper-charismatic, signs and wonders "healer" John Wimber. Wimber, and many of his fellow pastors in the movement, believe that God is giving new revelations for today that should supersede Scripture. In fact, Bill McCartney often gives what he claims are direct revelations from God, when speaking to the PK meetings. Wimber, and McCartney’s pastor, James Ryle, are self-proclaimed modern-day prophets.

The problem with any movement that is brought in to being or dominated by such self-proclaimed prophets is that they can claim to have a revelation from God and they can take the movement in any direction. The last chapter of Revelation and chapters 11-14 of I Corinthians make it very clear that the Bible is the perfect and complete word of God and when men claim new revelation, they are adding to the word of God. This is specifically contradictory to the plain teachings of Scripture.

The Vineyard movement also espouses such radical views as "spirit slaying," and the "laughing revival." Eye witnesses to the meetings in which the laughing phenomenon has been seen report that people are lying on the floor jerking and shaking. They may be clucking like a hen, barking like a dog, growling like a lion, or giggling hysterically. This goes on for long periods of time. There is nothing godly nor Scriptural about such conduct. It demonic! It is Satanic! 


I have just returned from a trip which I made by myself. During the drive of approximately 1000 miles I listened to tapes of much of the New Testament. I listened for edification but I also had an ear open for any admonitions to Christian to make promises. The basic message of PKs is that to be a good Christian you must make promises. In the book, What Makes A Man, the reader is bombarded by Bill McCartney and the other authors of the book with the idea that you cannot be a mature Christian without making and keeping certain promises. I have done searches in Scripture and have listened to much of the New Testament on tape just recently. I have not found one place where any inspired writer called upon the Christian to be a promise keeper. In Scripture the Promise Maker and Promise Keeper is God, not man. In fact, we are cautioned against making promises, or vows.

The word promise is found in the New Testament 43 times. Forty-one times the word has reference to the promise of God. The two other times have absolutely nothing to do with Christians making promises. Acts 23:21 has to do with some Jews who were conspiring to kill Paul. They sought a promise from the chief captain who was guarding him that he would bring him down to the council so they could kill him while he was being brought down. II Peter 2:19 refers to promises made by false teachers. 2 Peter 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption." This sounds amazingly like the leaders of Promise Keepers and how they promise men they can be liberated and grow into mature men, or "real men" as their bumper stickers proclaim.

The word promises appears 13 times in the New Testament and in every instance it refers to the promises of God. Not one time is it used in an admonition for Christians to make promises. Not one time does it suggest that one cannot be a real Christian man unless he makes promises. It confirms again that the only promise maker and promise keeper in Scripture is God.

The word promised is found in the New Testament 14 times. Eleven of those refer to the promises which God promised. Three times the word is used otherwise. In Matthew 14:7 it refers to a promise made by Herod which caused him to have to deliver up the head of John the Baptist on a silver charger. In Mark 14:11 and Luke 22:6 Judas promised to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

Absolutely every time the words promise, promised, and promises are found in Scripture they either refer to the promises of God or to some evil promise that was made. Not one time are the words used to refer to promises of Christians. If making promises is so exceedingly important, one wonders why Jesus, Paul, and the other preachers and writers of the New Testament never called on Christian men or women to make promises.

The whole idea that men must be promise keepers if they are to be mature, trust- worthy Christians is without biblical basis. It is found in the reasonings of men, not in the Word of God. This is another flaw in the foundation of the PK movement.  


The reader can plainly see that the foundation on which this PK movement is built is dubious, to say the least. The Lord established his first church on this earth during his personal ministry. Others were established from that during the ministry of the apostles. Others have been established since that time. According to God’s holy and infallible word, Christ commissioned that church and gave it all the instructions it needs. There is no mention in the Word of God of such movements as Promise Keepers. It is extra-scriptural, unscriptural, and anti-scriptural. It is no wonder the Promise Keepers organization is permeated with men who claim to have revelations directly from God. This is how they justify the existence of Promise Keepers. They cannot justify its origin or its continuance by the all-sufficient Word of God! When the ax is laid to the root of the Promise Keepers movement that root is found to be rotten and twice dead. 

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This page was last updated March 04, 2011.


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