One of the most confusing issues about Promise Keepers is its relationship to Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey (TMJ). TMJ is a blatant example of psychoheresy run rampant. We have written articles about TMJ. A booklet titled Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy, which contains those articles, is part of our Promise Keepers Warning Package. Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy reveals the grossly unbiblical teachings in TMJ.
The Masculine Journey was a joint project of Robert Hicks, Promise Keepers and NavPress. The confusion arises over the current relationship between TMJ and Promise Keepers. Some say that Promise Keepers has distanced itself from TMJ. However, the fact is that Promise Keepers continues to endorse Hicks’s book. While Promise Keepers no longer gives out copies of the book, as when 50,000 copies were given to all the attendees at the 1993 Promise Keepers Rally, PK still endorses the book. We recently confirmed that Promise Keepers’ seven-page letter of support for The Masculine Journey still stands and continues to be sent to those who request it.
Promise Keepers’ continued support of TMJ is a fatal flaw of the movement. Promise Keepers’ involvement in the development, production, and distribution of TMJ to begin with reveals the unbiblical roots of the movement’s view of masculinity. Because of the unbiblical nature of TMJ, we contend that if TMJ were Promise Keepers’ only flaw, that would still be a sufficient reason for men to reject the movement. Promise Keepers’ continued support of TMJ contradicts any effort on their part to distance themselves from it. You can’t have it both ways.
One acid test we have given pastors for the book is to ask them to preach a message in graphic detail from TMJ and particularly from Chapter 3, “The Phallic Man — Zakar.” It is our belief that any pastor who preaches it the way it is written would be dismissed from his pastorate.
Hicks contends that “this word [zakar] reflects the phallic male in his distinct sexual aspect” (p. 24). He says, “To be male is to be a phallic kind of guy, and as men we should never apologize for it, or allow it to be denigrated by women (or crass men either)” (p. 24). He also identifies Jesus as being “very much zakar, phallic” and says, “I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men” (p. 181).
The phrase “a phallic kind of guy” brings forth images of Greek paganism rather than biblical manhood. That is exactly the direction Hicks takes his readers. To emphasize the connection between sexuality and spirituality, Hicks refers to various pagan artifacts and practices as well as biblical circumcision. He says, “The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication” (p. 51).
Hicks reduces the biblical definition of manhood to one body part. He says, “The Bible simply defines manhood by the phallus” (p. 49). He fails to mention that Christianity has nothing to do with the phallus as a symbol of manhood. In fact, Paul even called those who insisted on circumcising new believers as preaching another (not the same) gospel. Why does Hicks want to introduce the phallus into Christianity? He says, “We are called to worship God as phallic kinds of guys, not as some sort of androgynous, neutered nonmales, or the feminized males so popular in many feminist-enlightened churches” (p. 51). He simply justifies his emphasis on the phallus by erecting a straw man.
Hicks declares: “I believe until the church sees men for what they are, phallic males with all their inherent spiritual tensions, it will not begin to reach men where they are living” (p. 55). In fact, he contends that men’s sexual problems (including “sexual addictions,” pornography, and adultery) “reveal how desperate we are to express, in some perverted form, the deep compulsion to worship with our phallus” (p. 56). But his analysis of the situation is driven by psychological notions. He fails to give any solid biblical support that every man has a “deep compulsion to worship with [his] phallus.”
The Promise Keepers movement has rapidly expanded from 4,200 men at one meeting in 1991 to 727,342 men in attendance at 13 different sites during 1995. The Promise Keepers’ budget has also expanded from $4 million in 1993 to $64 million in 1995. Far greater growth is anticipated for 1996. Promise Keepers’ recent special conference for clergymen in Atlanta, February 6-8, had 38,914 in attendance.
Those who have read The Masculine Journey know exactly what we are saying here. How can a movement that endorses such a flagrantly unbiblical book continue to grow without men of God confronting this issue?
PAL V4N2 (March-April 1996)