The Promise Keepers endorsed and distributed Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey to the men who attended their 1993 summer conference and continued to make it available at the 1994 summer conferences. Because some people and ministries have expressed concern about their original distribution and continuing endorsement of The Masculine Journey, Promise Keepers has now issued a statement in support of the book.
The seven-page statement, signed by Pete Richardson, Vice-President, Communication Services, begins by saying: “We desire to facilitate true biblical unity in the body of Christ, not the division that results from unnecessary and dishonoring debate.” We agree with Promise Keepers’ stated intent, for “unity in the body of Christ,” but disagree with their practice. “True biblical unity in the body of Christ” can only be based on truth. Without the basis of biblical truth, large gatherings of men (or women) will only be part of the last days’ apostasy. Although the men involved would claim otherwise, Promise Keepers stands for unity over truth. Their desire for large numbers of men at large numbers of gatherings has resulted in a hodge-podge of both heretical and sound doctrine.
Our two main concerns about Promise Keepers are the promotion of psycho-heresy on the part of some of the Promise Keepers’ most popular authors and speakers and a rising tide of ecumenicalism that blurs doctrinal distinctives. The Promise Keepers’ statement regarding the book The Masculine Journey further confirms our concerns about the organization’s commitment to and promotion of psychoheresy.
Promise Keepers asks and answers six questions about Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey. In summary Promise Keepers justifies their original selection and continued support of the book. We repeat, Promise Keepers was and is highly supportive of The Masculine Journey! Their enthusiastic endorsement for the book is just one of many fatal flaws of the movement. We strongly recommend and believe that true believers will abandon this popular movement regardless of what present-day popular speakers are involved.
Our booklet Promise Keepers and PsychoHeresy addresses many of the issues raised in the six questions asked and answered in the Promise Keepers’ statement of support for Hicks’s book. However, we have addressed many other concerns about Hicks’s book and the Promise Keepers in our booklet. Because we have already dealt with the issues addressed by the Promise Keepers’ recent statement regarding The Masculine Journey, we will be giving only abbreviated answers here and recommend the reader to examine our booklet titled Promise Keepers and Psycho-Heresy. Here we will follow Richardson’s sequence of questions and answers.
1. Why did Promise Keepers endorse The Masculine Journey? Promise Keepers says of The Masculine Journey:
What we discovered was a biblically-centered, frank and honest account of a man’s journey with God. We were convinced that it would help men pursue Jesus Christ amidst the challenges of the twentieth century. . . . We endorsed it because we believed that it would be a tool that challenged men to grow in Christ likeness, to become zaken or wise men of God, as Hicks writes.
What we demonstrate in our booklet is that The Masculine Journey is not “a biblically-centered, frank and honest account of a man’s journey with God.” We show that Hicks’s psychological orientation is the driving force behind The Masculine Journey. We demonstrate clearly Hicks’s Freudian and Jungian bases, which are evident in the statements he makes and the references from which he quotes. Our booklet amply demonstrates this.
2. Promise Keepers presents and attempts to answer the following question: “Why did Dr. Hicks choose the six Hebrew words for man to describe the male journey? Isn’t he just superimposing psychological categories on the Bible?”
As we show in our booklet, there is only a forced correspondence between those words and the stages of either Levinson or Hicks. The Bible is twisted to create an appearance of sameness. Hicks bases his use of the six Hebrew words on Daniel Levinson’s book The Seasons of a Man’s Life. The Promise Keepers’ statement says: “But the stages that Dr. Hicks discusses are qualitatively different from Levinson because they are rooted in the God-inspired vocabulary of the Bible.” The statement goes on to say: “Robert Hicks consistently refers to the poor attempts of leaders in the secular men’s movement to find a definition of manhood, leaders like Robert Bly and Sam Keen.” We show in our booklet that Hicks is “double-minded” in that he glibly dissociates himself from the secular leaders of the men’s movement and then regurgitates their nonsense.
3. “Is Promise Keepers becoming a ‘psycho spiritual’ movement?”
The very fact that Promise Keepers gave The Masculine Journey to over 50,000 men at its 1993 conference in Boulder, Colorado, and that it continues to endorse and support the book should be evidence enough that the leaven of psychospirituality permeates the movement. Add to that the presence of some of the most popular and blatant psychologizers of Christianity, such as Dobson, Oliver, Smalley, and Trent, and it only amplifies the exclamation that Promise Keepers IS a psychospiritual movement!
In answer to this question, the Promise Keepers’ statement says: “Promise Keepers believes that the psychologist who does not allow the Word of God to govern and direct his/her studies and conclusions is misdirected and deceived.” We have demonstrated in our booklet on Promise Keepers that Hicks “does not allow the Word of God to govern and direct [his] studies and conclusions.” In books we have written, we have demonstrated that the other psychologizers featured by the Promise Keepers also do “not allow the Word of God to govern and direct [their] studies and conclusions.” To use the Promise Keepers’ own guideline for psychologists, Hicks et al [the psychologizers] are “misdirected and deceived.” That is one reason why we recommend against this latter day movement.
One may ask, just because secular psychologies out in the world reek of anti-Christian bias, contradictions, and failures, does it follow that psychology in the church is also contaminated? Unfortunately what has been labeled “Christian psychology” is made up of the very same confusion of contradictory theories and techniques. Well-meaning psychologists who profess Christianity have merely borrowed the theories and techniques from secular psychology. They dispense what they believe to be the perfect blend of psychology and Christianity. Nevertheless, the psychology they use is the same as that used by non-Christian psychologists and psychiatrists. They use the theories and techniques devised by such men as Freud, Jung, Rogers, Janov, Ellis, Adler, Berne, Fromm, Maslow, and others, none of whom embraced Christianity or developed a psychological system from the Word of God.
The Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) is a group of psychologists and psychological counselors who are professing Christians. At one of their meetings the following was said:
We are often asked if we are “Christian psychologists” and find it difficult to answer since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues . . . as yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.
Although Christian psychological counselors claim to have taken only those elements of psychology that fit with Christianity, anything can be made to fit the Bible, no matter how silly or even satanic it is. Each Christian therapist brings his own individual psychology borrowed from the world to the Bible and modifies the Word to make it fit. What they use comes from the bankrupt systems of ungodly and unscientific theories and techniques.
Christians who seek to integrate psychology with Christianity have actually turned to secular, ungodly sources for help. And, because these unbiblical, unsubstantiated theories and techniques have been blended into the dough, they are well hidden in the loaf. Thus many Christians honestly believe that they are using only a purified, Christianized psychology. Instead, we are left with a contaminated loaf, not with the unleavened bread of the Word of God. A. W. Tozer declares:
At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. . . . The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man’s fallen reason is to try the impossible, and if persisted in must result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity.
The Promise Keepers’ statement goes on to say: “Historically, many of the great Protestant and evangelical theologians did not ignore the value of biblically-grounded conclusions regarding the study of the human soul, or psychology.” Unfortunately the psychological theories and therapies used and promoted by Christians originated from the over 450 different secular psychological systems of studying and therapizing the human soul, and all such systems are grounded in secular opinion rather than the Bible. The examples Promise Keepers gives in this section are the very reason we never use the words biblical and psychology together. Such psychologies are not biblical; they constitute another religion, that of secular humanism or transpersonal paganism. However, because the word psychology is used, Promise Keepers would have us believe that Oswald Chambers would support the psychospiritual approach that is an integral part of the Promise Keepers movement. And, they imply that John Calvin would go along with the Promise Keepers’ support for the psychologizing of the faith.
Their statement reveals Promise Keepers’ confusion about the use of the word psychology. This is just one of many failings on the part of the Promise Keepers’ leadership that leads them to accept and incorporate a psychospiritual approach. The movement is more driven by emotion than reason. The Promise Keepers fail to see the simple fact that Calvin’s, Chambers’ and others’ “biblically-grounded conclusions regarding the study of the human soul, or psychology” are NOT biblically-grounded but rather biblically derived. They further fail to see that Hicks, Dobson, Smalley, Trent, Oliver et al use and promote the kind of psychology which is NOT biblically derived, but rather is based on psychologically-grounded conclusions, which they bring to the Bible. In each case these psychologizers twist the Bible to fit their particular secular psychological persuasion. Secular psychologies are developed by secular psychologists and then are accepted and used by these professing Christians to the detriment of Scripture. The Bible is thus made subservient to individual secular psychologies.
The panorama of often conflicting and contradictory secular psychological approaches is just emulated by Christian psychologists, who accept these differing, often conflicting and contradictory approaches and then biblicize them.
4. The next questions the Promise Keepers’ statement attempts to address are these:
In places in The Masculine Journey, Dr. Hicks quotes favorably from certain secular psychologists and in other places he clearly disagrees with these same writers. Isn’t he inconsistent? Worse yet, isn’t it an accommodation to liberal thinking and a sell-out to man’s so-called wisdom?
We pointed out earlier that Hicks is inconsistent and that he states briefly that he disagrees with the secular writers and then wholeheartedly dispenses their erroneous conclusions.
The Promise Keepers’ statement argues, “Even within the Scripture itself, the Apostle Paul quotes pagan poets (Acts 17:28) and a Cretan poet (Titus 1:12).” Here are the two verses:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring (Acts 17:28).
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies (Titus 1:12).
In the verse from Acts we have one sentence that Paul uses from a Greek poet to draw attention to his message. Paul is not introducing a whole system of thought as the psychologizers do. Paul is not centering his sermon around this one sentence and then twisting Scripture to fit it as the psychologizers do. Paul, by the Spirit, uses one short, factual sentence from a Greek poet that fits in to what he is preaching, rather than using a whole pagan psychological system and scripturalizing it as the psychologizers do. In verse 23 of the same chapter in Acts, Paul says:
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you (Acts 17:23).
It is a point of contact, a means of being “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
In the Titus verse Paul is quoting one of the Cretan prophets. He is merely reporting a fact. Reporting facts is not what the psychologizers do. They use the very psychological wisdom of men that the Bible warns against and then biblicize it.
5. The fifth concern that the Promise Keepers’ statement attempts to address is this: “Isn’t Dr. Hicks too frank and graphic in his portrayal of the “Phallic Man” in Chapter 3? Doesn’t the Bible ask us to be silent on such things?” The Promise Keepers’ response discusses verses in Ephesians 4 and 5 and says: “Paul is encouraging the church of Ephesus to not let these sins be found in their lives. He is not placing a prohibition upon even talking or mentioning such sins, because he, himself does so on numerous occasions.” Then the Promise Keepers statement lists verses from the Old Testament and says: “But God, Himself, names these perverted practices in order to provide instruction about how His people should live.”
Yes, Scripture does describe a number of sins. And, yes, Paul was not prohibiting describing sins. He was exhorting against sinning. This is exactly the problem with Hicks’s book—sin! As we have shown in our booklet, it is a sinful portrayal of Jesus; it is a sinful portrayal of a Christian man; it is a sinful portrayal of worship, and it is a sinful (heretical) portrayal of Scripture. Promise Keepers inability to see these heretical portrayals is evidence of their extreme ecumenical commitment at the expense of sound doctrine. Support for such heretical teachings is one more evidence of the broad inclusionary practices of the Promise Keepers movement, which not only erases doctrinal distinctives, but embraces and supports error.
6. The sixth and final problem the Promise Keepers’ document attempts to address is this: “Dr. Hicks has been quoted as saying that men should worship Jesus with their phallus. Isn’t this a blasphemous statement? Why would someone associate Jesus with sexuality?”
The Promise Keepers’ response deals with two issues as follows: “First, the nature of worship, and second, the issue of associating Jesus with sexuality.” However, there is nothing presented on either of the issues which would support the idea of men worshipping Jesus with their phalluses anymore than worshipping Jesus with any other private body part, for that matter. Nor is there any indication that women are to worship with their clitoris. Both men and women keep themselves sexually clean by obedience, NOT by worshipping with a phallus or a clitoris. Hicks’s citing pagan rites as an encouragement to consider phallic worship is quite different from obedience. While one may say that all one does in obedience to the Lord may be called worship and while circumcision was an act of obedience, there is nothing in the Old or New Testament that calls for phallic worship. Phallic worship is definitely a part of pagan worship. This is an abomination to God! We are to worship God with our entire being, not our private body parts. From the Gospel of John we read: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
The second response by Promise Keepers in this section has to do with Jesus and temptation. As we show in our booklet, Hicks’s description of Jesus related to sexuality and temptation is at minimum downright disrespectful of Him and more likely heretical. No amount of rationalization or justification by the Promise Keepers will rescue Hicks’s description of Jesus from at least serious suspicions of blasphemy.
The Promise Keepers’ massive distribution and continued support of Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey are symptomatic of the psychoheresy and ecumenicalism that infects the movement. The book alone is a testimony as to why Christians should not support or participate in the Promise Keepers movement. The magnitude and extent of the aberrations from orthodoxy warrant a rejection of the entire movement. The Promise Keepers’ recent strong support of Hicks in response to criticisms of this book only accentuates the extent of their error.
Promise Keepers claim that “The Masculine Journey is a valid resource for men to grow in Christ, but it does not encompass all of the values and distinctives of Promise Keepers.” Although the Promise Keepers would not want the entire movement to be judged on the basis of The Masculine Journey, their enthusiastic support of the magnitude and extent of the deviations from orthodoxy in the book is reason enough to do so.
[For a Special Report on Promise Keepers by Al Dager, write to Media Spotlight, P. O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073-0290.]
PAL V2N6 (November-December 1994)