Many have critiqued the Promise Keepers for a number of things, most of which we find uncompelling... as many of the mistakes made have been remedied; and I know of no ministry that has not made mistakes. As well, we know several men who have been encouraged towards Christ via this movement. But we are not without concern, which we will put forth for your consideration.
The chief problem for Laura and I is that we are suspicious of any ministry that goes out of its way to create distinctions of the flesh.
Suppose I start a group for only Jews--no Gentiles allowed? Or perhaps a group of rich people only? Most everybody would agree that this would not look good, and yet these two carnal distinctions are mentioned in the VERY SAME VERSE as gender...
Gal 3:28 (NIV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.So on what pretext can we rationalize a gentile, rich, or male only meeting? Is there a "different gospel" for Jews? Is there a "different gospel" for prigs? Is there a "different gospel" for men? If not, then what are such meetings saying? Is the tacit statement made "consistent with the Gospel"?
Gal 2:11-14 (NIV) When Peter came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong... for he used to eat with the Gentiles. But... he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles... The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel...Actually, we can imagine a redemptive meeting separated along the lines of such fleshly distinctions, but only one... It might make sense for white people to get together to, say, repent of sins of prejudice in the past--but only if the group were gathering to collectively confess and lament for the purpose of being empowered to go back and be reconciled with the whole body as God has chosen it. And right here is where we have a problem with Promise Keepers--it seeks to be an ongoing concern--a reconstructed and perpetual "wall of separation" (Eph 2:14). If it were an ad-hoc necessity to temporarily consider how "off" we are as men--with the goal of reconciling men and women in Christ--then I could at least bear the fleshly division for a season. But is seems as if the Promise Keepers intend to go on this way indefinitely.
Gal 2:14 (NRS) ...they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel...
Again, if a group of rich people calls me to meet so that we can all repent and think of ways to help other less fortunate people, then I would consider going or endorsing such a gathering. But if, after meeting a few times, these rich people decide that they "feel more close to God" without the distractions of poor people around, then I think we have a problem. No? I hope you see my point.
Jam 2:1 (TEB) My brothers! As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways, according to their outward appearance.Anyway, these are our thoughts on the matter, and what we explain to people who try to solicit our (my) involvement.
2 Cor 5:16 (NKJ) Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.While you may not agree that this as important as we believe it is, I can tell you that we are consistent in this. We do not even like "Marriage Groups" and such. From our point of view, if we bill a meeting as such, it is something of a con that we remedy in the introduction. I will open by saying: "What I am going to prescribe for your marriages is the same thing I would prescribe to any person anywhere with any problem. For in the end we all have the same problem: we are sinners, and there is only ONE WAY to be saved... by repentance to the gospel of Jesus Christ!"
1 Cor 1:10 (Wey) Now I entreat you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to cultivate a spirit of harmony--all of you--and that there be no divisions among you, but rather a perfect union through your having one mind and one judgement.