Can a Roman Catholic Be a "Promise Keeper"?

by Mary Jo Heiland


Who They Are

Promise Keepers is "... one of the century’s fastest growing religious phenomena, shooting from an attendance of 4,200 men in 1991 to 279,000 in 1994. In 1995 the number of men paying $55.00 to listen to soft Christian rock and hard Christian preaching and weep in one another’s arms mounted to an astounding 727,000.

"In 1990 then University of Colorado football coach, Bill McCartney (a fallen-away Catholic), disturbed by the state of his family and his nation, concocted the idea of Christian men-only stadium rallies. That idea became Promise Keepers, a combination Super Bowl game and revival meeting, with the added twist that participants sign a list of seven promises, including pledges (some say oaths) to maintain sexual fidelity, build strong marriages, and participate in church."

At face value, it appears to be a praiseworthy movement ... a masculine, Christian response to the ravages of feminist, anti-life, anti-family forces that have been the plague of the second half of this century. In fact, it seems so attractive that many Catholics are being sucked into Promise Keepers, even though it is essentially a Protestant phenomena.

But there is more behind the scenes that needs to be brought to light. It is of utmost urgency that Catholics resist the temptation of this new movement because of the Protestant/revivalist roots of Promise Keepers, the questionable background of its founder, the anti-Catholicism evident in this movement, the perverted teaching contained in one of Promise Keepers main textbooks, it’s use of the Rogerian "encounter group" method, and its frightening parallel with the all male movements that were the hallmark of Fascism and Nazism in the 1920’s and 30’s.

It is necessary to sound the alarm, particularly to pro-life people because Promise Keepers is getting the "green light" from all the major pro-life organizations including the pro-life office of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.3

The Wrong Solution

The problems Promise Keepers claims to address are real: absent fathers, troubled children, infidelity, divorce, and drug and alcohol abuse. They even tackle some monumental, "bigger than life" issues such as racial and denominational disunity; treating them as if they are equal in nature, which they are not. This is causing some "raised eyebrows", given the Promise Keeper setting which is geared to wiping out differences through emotional bonding and brotherhooding.

Its syncretistic ecumenism causes concern for both Protestants and Catholics. Hard-line Protestants who view the Catholic Church with distrust, fear the "too friendly" Promise Keeper leadership is leading them into an alliance with that they call "the whore of Babylon".

Catholics are rightfully wary of Promise Keepers false brand of unity because Catholics know that true unity can only be achieved when God grants the separated brethren the grace to see the Church as The Bride of Christ and the Pope as the head of the Church on her earthly pilgrimage.

The politics of excitement and "no brainers" seems to be the low road chosen to wipe out denominational and racial separation. Promise Keepers utilizes all the super excitement and "play over your head" dynamics of a football extravaganza, and why not? Their fearless leader, Bill McCartney, is, after all, a former Colorado University football coach who won games with this motivational technique. Now he seeks to apply to religion and in the name of Jesus Christ, the same locker room psychology.

The New York Times, August 6, 1995 tells us: "The experience of these meetings is by equal parts religious revival, inspirational pep talk and spiritual support group-excitement, camaraderie and reassurance in a time of dramatic change ..." (emphasis added).

Mark Noll would take note of this modern Evangelical approach to religion in his brilliant work, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The scandal he speaks of is the anti-intellectualism of the modern Evangelical, which he would blame on an atmosphere of emotional revivalism aimed at a "populist," anti-institutional sort of zealousness that has no use for history, facts or even truth. Bloom, in his THE AMERICAN RELIGION, The Emergence of the Post Christian Nation, would go so far as to characterize revivalism as non-Christian, rooted in African American Gnostic dualism, with shamanic trance states induced by drumming and enthusiastic shoutings (p. 240). He would also identify this revivalistic religion as "The American Religion".


The movement of revivalism, on which Promise Keepers is clearly based, is a method of intensive preaching and prayer meetings aimed at inspiring widespread religious fervor. It is said to be a means of mass reawakenings of so-called religious faith and devotion throughout the country. It is part of American Protestantism, and is anathema to Catholic teaching and practice. Historically, revivalist preachers have come from various Protestant denominations.

Traditionally, the appeal of revivalism has always been to the mass of "unchurched" people, who can thus be made to feel that Christianity has some meaning for them without membership in one of the conventional religious bodies.

Msgr. Ronald Knox would describe Revivalism as one of the "enthusiastic" religions ... that is, a religion based on emotionalism. This point is admitted by the revivalists themselves. The 18th Century revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, argued that there can be no true religion without deep inner feelings, which it is the purpose of the revival to arouse.

The revivalist preacher, Billy Sunday, dominated American revivalism in the early part of this century. He was primarily a showman who pranced around the platform and hurled the furniture to "sock it to the devil". He once addressed over two million people at a one-week mission in Philadelphia. At the time, many sincere Protestants viewed Mr. Sunday as a source of great embarrassment, just as many consider McCartney’s hyper-emotionalism today.

At first, revivalism was looked upon as something that competed with local denominations. In time, revivalism, (especially the Billy Graham type "Crusade") was erroneously regarded as something that inspired and united denominations.

Today, the Promise Keepers brand of revivalism, based on the bizarre theological background of McCartney, seems to be headed towards control of denominations, as will be demonstrated in Part II of this article. Also, as will be noted, Promise Keepers ends up exercising an unholy influence over Catholic pastors and Catholic teaching.

Theologically speaking, doctrine and dogma are absent at Promise Keeper stadium events, as indicated by shouts of "Hit him, hit him, hit him", as thousands of men shake their fists and you realize they are talking about the devil himself. The shouts to physically assault the devil are in response to a message by African-American pastor, E. V. Hill4 and is also reminiscent of Billy Sunday’s absurd approach already mentioned. Little matter that orthodox teaching about the devil defines him as a spirit ... not one to defeat with fists, rattles and shouts aimed at scaring evil spirits away, as is acted out in voodoo ritual!

Coming as it does out of "The American Religion" of revivalism, Promise Keepers has nothing in common with Roman Catholicism and its emphasis on sacred worship, Redemption through the Cross, sacramental grace, doctrine and dogma. And yet, Catholics are being drawn into Promise Keepers as if it is something authentically Christian, even to the point of being defended from the most unlikely Catholic quarters.

For example, Gentlemen’s Quarterly of January 1996 got into hot water with some readers by calling Bill McCartney a "lop-eared loon," as well as referring to the Promise Keeper’s movement as "the snake oil of tent revivalism." In reaction, The Wanderer, which is regarded as a leading voice of Catholic conservatism, ran a sympathetic news story in its January 25, 1996 edition featuring Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition demanding an apology and retraction for the above. In truth, Bill McCartney has yet to pass the test of whether he is a well meaning soothsayer (he started Promise Keepers due to a "vision"), or an opportunist riding the exciting crest of Vineyard events.

McCartney’s Religious Roots

Exposing the dangers of Promise Keepers necessitates a review of the peculiar background of its founder, Bill McCartney. This is essential in order to know the warped theological mind-set that McCartney brings to his self-appointed "mission."

To do this however, is to lead the reader through unfamiliar waters, as most Catholics are blissfully unaware of the broad spectrum of bizarre Protestant, neo-Pentecostal movements dotting and blotting the religious landscape. Of special mention in Bill McCartney’s religious formation is his affiliation with:

1) the Word of God Community of Ann Arbor,
2) a Shepherding/Discipling association called the "Manifest Sons of God,"
3) the hyper-Pentecostal "Vineyard" group.

Bill McCartney came out of the Word of God Community of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Word of God is a neo-Pentecostal quasi-Catholic community formed by Ralph Martin and Steve Clark, which quickly developed cult like tendencies cemented by a "secret society" covenant with the Evangelical Shepherding/Discipling group known as "The Fort Lauderdale Five." They formed a militant, apocalyptic, command center called "The Council." This particular movement (and it is fluid and extant) is characterized by "Manifest Sons of God" signs and wonders, which we will address as we go along. It would be out of this community that Bill McCartney’s belief system would be formed. He left to join the Vineyard Church network, which also utilized the Manifest Sons of God "doctrines."

"Manifest Sons of God"

The Shepherding/Discipling cult of Ann Arbor is rooted in the William Branham school of revivalism, characterized by Branham’s interpretation of Joel 2:23. This interpretation has led to splits in Protestantism (once again) that are known as cults of "The Latter Rain" or "Manifest Sons of God." Manifest Sons of God’s teachings show up in Bill McCartney’s Vineyard Church.

Branham’s interpretation speaks of ..."the latter rain of God’s blessing upon Israel." He saw denominationalism as the "Mark of the Beast." He had a bitter view toward women, teaching that Eve conceived Cain in a sexual dalliance with the devil in the garden. He saw the curse of the serpent’s seed plaguing mankind through women. He taught the equality of pyramidology and zodiac signs with Scripture. The Latter Rain teachings of Branham would continue down to this time in the persons of the Manifest Sons of God.

A summary of "Manifest Sons of God" teaching is as follows:

1) In the latter days, the offices of apostle and prophet will be restored.

2) The prophets will call the Church to holiness and rejection of the world’s influences found in the denominational churches (including, or perhaps most especially, the Roman Catholic). True sonship with God will come through stages of perfection; servant, friend, son and ultimately, godhood itself.

3) The apostles will rule the Church through the establishment of independent churches, unaffiliated with corrupt denominations (ed. thus the "church growth" plans that pull people out of the institutional churches through invasion by "cells" or small prayer support groups with a "life of their own"). The exception for denominational churches would be the denominational churches that leave their covering and join the movement (this is a typical Evangelical stance, and also, if one is to read the Shepherding/Discipling history, getting folks to leave their church is a main goal of the invasion of the para-churches such as Promise Keepers).5

4) Through signs and wonders wrought by the apostles and prophets, a worldwide revival will break out, and a majority of the world will be won to Christ. The signs and wonders will include blessings upon those whom the apostles and prophets bless, and curses upon those whom they curse.

5) The revival will come as the result of the church defeating demonic spirits through prayer, fasting and spiritual warfare conducted through intense worship and prayer, and by rebuking demonic powers and territorial spirits. The restoration of worship and praise is known as the restoration of the Tabernacle of David, and includes dancing, singing, and exuberant praise in tongues. (Most of this should be familiar to Catholics who take part in the "Spiritual Resistance" to abortion as conducted alternatively in Catholic and Protestant churches. These gatherings employ the Old Testament language and the activities of the above.)

6) Those who achieve a certain degree of holiness under the direction of the apostles and prophets will overcome all enemies, including death, and will become immortal.6 They (these "overcomers") will complete the conquest of the nations before Christ returns. The conquering will be done as Joel’s army — an army of immortal beings — brings judgement upon the ungodly and all who will not accept the authority of the apostles and prophets;

7) Some believe that the Second Coming of Jesus is in and through their new brand of "Church"; this "Church" will become Christ on earth and rule the nations with a rod of iron. Others believe that after this "Church" has taken Dominion over the nations (or a significant portion of the nations), the Church glorious and triumphant, will call Jesus back to earth and hand the nations over to Him.

This is popularly known as Dominion Theology. It is obviously abhorrent to Catholic Theology. And it is out of this "Manifest Sons of God" that the leader of Promise Keepers, Bill McCartney, (leading Joel’s army?) moves to the forefront.

The Vineyard

The Dallas Fort Worth Heritage (June 1995) carried a critical piece on Promise Keepers entitled: "Promise Keepers: Growth and Caution", pointing to the Promise Keepers’ "Vineyard connection." It said, "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, become paralyzed, roar like a lion or howl and bark like a dog." Bill McCartney’s pastor, James Rhyle has taken part in such "Holy Laughter" sessions.

Oddly enough, in Gentlemen’s Quarterly of January 1996 (p. 129), Pastor Rhyle tells writer, Scott Raab: "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."

Vineyard’s founder, John Wimber, has recently divorced the Vineyard churches from the "Holy Laughter" center in Toronto, Canada, saying, "I believe there has been an authentic visitation of the spirit there" (in regard to the laughing, animal noises, including barking and being "glued to the floor"). "However, I am unable because of my own scriptural and theological convictions to any longer give an answer for, or defend, the way this particular move is being pastored and/or explained."7 At the risk of some cynicism, many see the break as protecting Promise Keepers; a point well taken if indeed, as James Rhyle indicates, the Vineyard spawned Promise Keepers with all its popular appeal, mega million dollar funding and militant para-church organization.

It is no wonder, then, that with such bizarre theological roots, Catholics involved with McCartney’s Promise Keepers movement would be in great danger of having their Faith subverted or even assailed. The anti-Catholicism found in the movement manifests itself in various forms.

Shameful Teaching About Mary and Joseph

Ken Canfield is founder and president of a Promise Keepers appendage called "The National Center for Fathering" in Shaunee Mission, Kansas. This organization is a type of "hub" due to being the "data collection" center for the Promise Keepers. This data, it seems, is gleamed from Promise Keeper type "confessions," where men confess to other men.

Canfield was sponsored into Wichita first, by Hopenet, a sort of "umbrella" pro-life organization, mainly Evangelical. Once brought in by such a "respectable" group as Hopenet, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the usually hostile secular press picks up and gives men such as Canfield uncritical press.

For instance, the Sunday, March 3, 1996 City/State section of The Wichita Eagle features front page, Canfield’s picture as he speaks to a total of 3,000 people in a two day seminar at a local church with a history of "serendipity" pastors (Serendipity being the small Rogerian encounter groups aimed at turning church from worship of God to intimate interpersonal relations with fellow human beings.)

The "fathering" secrets of Canfield are common sense, intuitive ways of how to raise a child. One does not need all the books, tapes and monied "secrets" of a Canfield to "figure this out." What is most distressing, however, is that Catholics also buy into this without "checking him out." The following can be cited as only one of many shabby "digs" at the dignity of the Holy Family, Catholic teaching and many decent Protestants’ understanding of the sacredness of the Virgin Birth and the part played by Joseph, that are taken by these new age warriors.

The blasphemy about Joseph and Mary is from a book entitled Fathers Who Made a Difference by Dietrich Gruen who claims to be a Promise Keeper "ghost writer."8 Dietrich Gruen is an old "Serendipity" encounter sort of guy, and his resource guides are published by Serendipity House.9

In the back of the book, Fathers Who Made a Difference, is a "Personal Fathering Profile" which is to be sent into Canfield’s National Center for Fathering (which is also the data collection center for the Promise Keeper "confessions," and other "data").10

Here are some excerpts from Gruen’s book, Fathers Who Made a Difference, which serves to gather clients for Canfield’s Center for Fathering (A Promise Keeper’s connection):

"The Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of Joseph is equally intriguing. In their veneration of Mary as ‘Virgin Mother,’ they have had to displace Joseph’s obvious fatherhood. Catholic writers have expunged all biblical references to Joseph as the father of any children by Mary. According to Catholic sources, Joseph not only had no sex with Mary in producing Jesus, but Mary remained a virgin all her life."

"Such Catholic tradition has to ignore, delete or reinterpret the many biblical references to the brothers of Jesus ... some theorize they were half siblings, Joseph’s children from a previous marriage. If so, why aren’t all ten of the Joseph clan in our Christmas card manger scenes?" A more plausible, long standing Protestant tradition holds that Joseph was the father of eight kids altogether. All eight were born after Jesus. (emphasis in the original). Ironically, having numerous children, not ‘virgin motherhood’ or ‘absent fatherhood’ is what makes Mary and Joseph typical of and helpful to many Catholic parents today."11

From the same book:

Questions for discussion in the small group "Brother to Brother":

"Is the Virgin Birth necessary to the Gospel story? If so why?"

The "group" is given five answers from which to choose, none of which is respectful or truthful. For example: "I do not think the Virgin Birth is essential; Mark and John did not mention it."

Another "discussion for the group": Given the scenario of Joseph as a "most forgotten father," what do you think was the toughest, least appreciated part of what he did?

a) Not having sex with Mary until after Jesus was born (notice how this is presented — given the buildup in the book.)

b) Having to play second fiddle to the Mother of Jesus.

Not all this dangerous nonsense is being foisted off on the Church by Evangelicals. Within Catholic circles, a main conduit for Promise Keepers and the trendy "Fathering" seminars is Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest.12 Father Rohr was in Wichita, July 1989, addressing a Religious Education Conference. Father Rohr conducts "Wilderness Retreats" for men. Some of his comments in regard to the Church are as follows:

* "The ecclesial system works on co-dependency, with the church and its ministers agreeing to be sick in a tyranny of power, manipulation and control."13

*..."In fact the Church has been not only Gnostic for much of its history, but also monophysite."14

*..."Since its beginnings, the Church has been grossly material and engaged in the physical, but pretends that it is not."15

Father Rohr also states that "Liberation Theology" is the gospel as far as he is concerned.16

So, while the "Evangelical"arm pillories St. Joseph, the Catholic arm of Promise Keepers scores the Church itself.

The Perversion of Parishes

As noted with "Hopenet" and Canfield, the pro-life movement is one of the most well funded forums that is wide open to the revivalistic nature of Promise Keepers. As a result, the blasphemous anti-Catholic teachings cited above sometimes end up being preached by Catholic priests who are involved with pro-life organizations where members overlap into Promise Keepers.

For example, here in Wichita, one of the Roman Catholic priests most closely associated with the pro-life movement gave a talk on a First Saturday in the Fall of 1995. That talk concluded with the "understanding" that Joseph and Mary did have relations after Jesus ... leaving the door open for protestant interpretation about "brothers and sisters." Some young mothers in the Church who had been instructing their children at home found their children staring at them in confusion, having been taught just the opposite at home. Needless to say, these young mothers fled that particular Church with their children.

Catholics Worship the Devil?

The Promise Keepers brand of denominational "bonding" exposes Catholics to reckless endangerment of their faith. Promise Keepers will have Catholics "bond" with evangelical Protestants who are so fiercely anti-Catholic, that many teach that the Catholic liturgy is synonymous with devil worship.

Circuit riders of the prophetic charismatic groups hold evangelicals by the thousands captive with tales of blood bubbling in chalices and bats flying around Catholic altars as Catholic priests offer satanic worship daily. I personally attended such a "Prophecy seminar" here in Wichita on August 19, 1995, where this defamation took place. These words were delivered to a standing room only, group of Evangelicals, many of whom lock arms with Catholic priests in front of abortion clinics. How did the Evangelicals respond? They filled the coffers with dollars and wrote large checks to buy all the lies and propaganda. When asked by one of us what she thought of the "show," a local Protestant Evangelical leader with Operation Rescue said she believed the speaker, of course.

Another indication that these Evangelicals are primed and prepped to believe that Catholics worship the devil in the Holy Eucharist is found in Dr. Rebecca Brown’s book, Prepare for War. Brown embellishes her message with pictures of devout women adoring Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in adoration chapels. She tells her audience (very large audience) that the poor women really don’t know that the host is the devil, and that it is the job of good Evangelicals to save such deluded Catholics. These evangelicals are even put to this task with threats to their own eternal salvation should they fail to try and extricate Catholics from such "evil folly." Many, and I mean many Evangelicals read her book and believe every word.

The ecumenical bonding with Evangelicals promoted by Promise Keepers places Catholics in great danger of their faith coming under attack. Perhaps it is not only the faith, but Catholics themselves that may end up physically assaulted. The Promise Keepers macho chants of "hit him, hit him, hit him," with flailing fists in the air to "strike the devil," coupled with regaling gullible Evangelicals with tales of the Holy Mass and Consecration as "devil worship" is the stuff of which the German genocide of the Jews was made.

Part II

Revivalism Comes to the Roman Catholic Church

Everyone Was Invited But Jesus

[Editor’s Note: In Part I, Mary Jo Heiland explained some of the basic problems with Promise Keepers. It is important to understand that what we are seeing is really a resurgence of Protestant revivalism. Though revivalism is something that has always been a non-Catholic phenomenon, it has been left to those of us who live in this dark period of history to witness the horror of revivalism finally penetrating into the Catholic Church. First came the breakdown of the Faith due to the novel reforms of Vatican II, primarily ecumenism. Now, revivalism, whether it be Promise Keepers, or the Father Goode hootenanny services reported here, is looked upon to fill the void. The outcome can only be more destruction of the Faith, since non-Catholic means can never bring about Catholic results. The series concludes next month.]

Bad Theology

March 24, 1996, will go down in history as a "first ever" revival to be held in a Roman Catholic Church in Wichita, Kansas. The "event" was performed in the Cathedral Parish with Bishop Eugene J. Gerber presiding.

The "revivalist" was Father Jim Goode, a Franciscan who graduated from the Rockefeller Union Theological Seminary (and, I might add, a Ph.D. Psychologist; a profession which he exercises very skillfully). The voice inflections, the hand tremblings, the body thrustings, the "here it comes" tension building that leads to emotional outburst — finally — are all techniques that good psychological crowd controllers know how to use. He was good at it. During this ceremony, which I personally attended, I was spellbound at how he controlled the people in the pews.

Father Goode stopped in Wichita while he was on his way home from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress which ended on the same March 24, 1996. He had taken part in this "event" which the April, 1996 issue of MISSION (the Los Angeles Lay Catholic) reported that "... it was so pagan I was just waiting for the golden calf" (speaking of the closing Mass).

Sister Annunciata of West Covina called the Los Angeles event "the most disgraceful, disgusting, blasphemous liturgy I have ever experienced". She said, "It wasn’t worship, it was a performance." "The arena was packed with thousands of people. Six bishops sat and watched. The music sounded like a Rolling Stones concert. Flagrantly gay men wearing purple pajamas with gold sandals danced down aisles to lead the RCIA candidates to the front." Cardinal Mahony himself, celebrated the Mass described here; the same Cardinal Mahony who placed a first ecclesiastical seal of approval for Catholic involvement with the revivalistic Promise Keepers sect.17

Revivalist Father Goode was also featured as the revivalist of a Feb. 4, 1996 "Mass" presided over by New York’s John Cardinal O’Conner.18 This revival featured barefoot dancers in filmy costumes that moved the Cardinal to tears (happy tears). Cardinal O’Conner praised it saying "I have never seen such a display of unity, one oneness in Christ, as I say in the Cathedral today." Perhaps what happened in Wichita, Kansas was conservative by the coastal standards.

What is a "Eucharistic People"?

During Fr. Goode’s disgraceful ceremony in Wichita, we were told not to be "respectful," that what was wanted was a "roof raising." This was said by "Master of Ceremonies" Deacon Ron Ealey.19 This is abhorrent to Catholic teaching and practice. Catholics are respectful in Roman Catholic Churches because of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the tabernacles. The Angel at Fatima prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament in 1917 confirms Heavens demand for reverence before the Holy Eucharist.

That night, we were referred to as a "Eucharistic people" by Rhonda Lohkamp of the Christian Rite of Adult Initiation (RCIA) — a referral out of place since a large number of the audience was not Catholic. Maybe she went back to the old Greek/Latin meaning of Eucharist as "thanksgiving" or "gratitude," but unity in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was lost in confusion and fog, as was Jesus Christ Himself. The Trinity and the Cross come up short in "revival" time and time again.

Jesus Not On the Revivalist’s Cross

Some of the fog was created before the Revival, when the Holy Spirit was pictured on the Cross instead of Jesus. More of the fog was apparent when Father Goode (after telling a moving story about a daughter’s faith in her father’s ability to save her life) shouted over and over that, "My Father is coming back to get me, my Father is coming back." It was utter lunacy. One thing is clear — that Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, rose from the dead and IS COMING BACK, was never mentioned.

Jesus was not on the Protestant processional Cross that was used at this ceremony either. In regard to this, Harold Bloom in his book, The American Religion, comments: "Compare the Roman Catholic crucifix with the cross of all Baptist churches, as well as most of the American Protestant denominations. The Catholics worship Christ crucified, but the Baptists salute the empty cross, from which Jesus already has risen. Resurrection is the entire concern of the American Religion, which gets Christ off the cross as quickly as Milton removed him, in just a line and one half of Paradise Lost."

One may ask, why is a Protestant processional cross used in this parish? The answer is simple; it may be a Catholic Church, but thanks to ecumenism and resurgent revivalism, there is no Catholic worship going on inside. This evening, a false and foreign religion had taken over — with the blessing of the bishop.

We Clapped for Everything and Everyone

There was lots of entertainment each of the four revival nights; some of it so good that one really had to restrain oneself from applauding loudly. There was clapping all around me, shouting, oohing and aawing, wailing, jumping up and down, body thrustings, hand tremblings, ad lib singing by the revivalist, whatever "the Spirit moved one to do" was done without restraint. Certainly every attempt was being made to "loosen" us up so that we would be uninhibited and "know" beyond a shadow of a doubt (and because of the strength of the emotions being stirred up) that it was the Spirit who was moving, and especially, moving us.

The More Religious, the More Calm

This "movement of the Spirit" was a topic of conversation as people moved out of the church after the sessions, which one could help but overhear. Cardinal John Henry Newman would have expressed dismay at the people who would "be there if the Spirit moves me," and "If He doesn’t, I won’t." Over one hundred years ago, Newman corrected this false notion by insisting that "while it is quite true that works had to be done "through the Spirit," that did not alter the fact that they had to be done by ordinary human beings.

As a former Evangelical, Newman preached many sermons to keep faithful Catholics on track. Warning against seeking states of excitement and believing them to be religious experience, Newman tells us: "One secret act of self denial, one sacrifice of inclination in favor of duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in which idle people indulge themselves. It will give us more comfort on our death bed to reflect on one deed of self denying mercy, purity, or humility, than to recollect the shedding of many tears, the recurrence of frequent transports, and much spiritual exultation."

Newman would point to the life of Jesus Himself as an example of how the more religious men become, the calmer they become.20

Tradition, Doctrine and Dogma Attacked by Revivalism

In The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark A. Noll points to revivalism, anti-intellectualism, and hyper-supernaturalism as causing the "scandal" of the Evangelical mind. The "scandal" of which he speaks is that there really is no thinking Evangelical mind. He writes, "Evangelicals, being bereft of self-criticism, intellectual subtly or awareness of complexity, are blown about by every wind of apocalyptic speculation and enslaved to the cruder spirits of populist science."21

Noll is a sympathetic critic of the modern Evangelical. He is, himself one. How the Roman Catholic Church with its hierarchial structure and dogmatic/doctrinal foundation could get involved in revivalism is beyond this writer, for here is Noll on Revivalism: "the problem with revivalism for the life of the mind, however, lay precisely in its anti-traditionalism. Revivals called people to Christ as a way of escaping tradition, including traditional learning. They called upon individuals to take the step of faith for themselves ... everything of value in the Christian life had to come from the individual’s own choice — not just personal faith, but every scrap of wisdom, understanding and conviction about the faith."22

Revivalism, besides contradicting the Roman Catholic hierarchial structure directly, also blazed the path for confusion of religion and politics in the 1990s. "The revival, for instance, became the dominant religious force in American Protestantism in large part because it was so effective
[emphasis added] in winning the unaffiliated, but also because it so effectively expressed the country’s democratic spirit ..."23 "And so, the language of liberalism emphasizing the freedom of individuals from hierarchial restraint and the formation of community upon the unfettered choices of free individuals joined by contract ... thus, the revival defined conversion as an immediate choice made by individuals ..."24 Once again, revivalism is anti-intellectual, populist and libertarian, none of which fits the definition of Roman Catholic Church.

As Roman Catholics, we must ask, "What are we being revived into"?

And then, There is the Rockefeller Influence

The Rockefeller financed seminary background of Father Goode is interesting in that there is a valid comparison also to the Rockefeller backed Woodstock rock gathering and the "revivalism" approach to Church. There was "the beat" present in the music, both the Baptists versions in church, and the secular versions at the Woodstock festival. The music stirs
[emphasis added] the senses and soon everyone is rocking and swaying, clapping and shouting, resulting in what Bloom would once again all "the American Religion" (of) Orphism,(frenzied, musical, mystical; the Mystery Religions of Greece); Enthusiasm (hyper-Supernaturalism, moved by signs and wonders); Gnosticism (direct line to divine for knowledge; no worthy mediating institution between God and man, no authoritative Church, no priest); dualist, and elitist; and antinomian, (hyper-Supernaturalism, or achievement of a perfected state above the law; a radical notion of Grace destroying nature and replacing it rather than the Catholic teaching of Grace correcting nature).

Will We come to This?

The Bishop of Wichita Diocese introduced himself as a John the Baptist, heralding "he who was to come" in speaking of Father Jim Goode, revivalist. The fourth night culminated in an altar call and hand blessing that brought forth loud wails and sobbing. What was most frightening is that we were told that more is coming, since the "new look" known as revival is what the Church will look like in the Year 2000!

Revival History is Not Roman Catholic History

Revivalism is "The American Religion." It is the personal story of power preachers such as Charles Finney who rode the "Second Great Awakening" to power. Finney shifted the revivalist theological center from justification, or being right with God by Faith25 in Jesus Christ to being "born again" for the purpose of moral refinement. Finney taught that the "new birth" was not a miracle of the Holy Spirit, but an act of human will influenced by methods of persuasion.

In order to persuade people to become Christians, Finney emphasized emotion and excitement. He defined revivalism as being the product of nothing more than the right use of means ... man was not spiritually dead but had merely made the wrong choices. He believed and taught that the sinner has all the faculties and natural abilities required to render perfect obedience to God. In the end, Finney rejected the doctrine of Original Sin.

Finney’s new measures in revivalism were the: altar call, the decision to accept Jesus, the "prayer of faith," the use of excitement and emotion to facilitate decision, and the attempt to promote the moral reformation of the culture. Everything became a matter of "right" choices under the influence of powerful emotional stimulants. We see this parallel with the Promise Keepers whose participants are "pumped up" to influence home, Church and community, and that this influence will be decidedly political. On the immediate home front, there was much of Charles Finney at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Wichita, Kansas during Revival, 1996. Funny his influence permeate Catholic Churches just when Protestants themselves are accusing the historical Finney of revivalist heresy.

A more immediate and "at home" revivalism for Kansans happened right here in Kansas, Topeka to be exact. Under the powerful persuasion of Charles Parnham. Topeka, Kansas, 1901 would see Charles Fox Parnham lead his followers in an ecstatic celebration of Baptism in the Holy Spirit! He would recruit William Seymour, an African/ American Revivalist preacher. It would be Seymour who would carry revival to Los Angeles and Azula Street where speaking in tongues demonstrated a "perpetual state of Pentecost" which would spread across the nation and the world. African/American Pentecostalism has never ceased. As was already mentioned, we even found it inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1995,26 complete with barefoot dancers in filmy gold and white costumes, with the pathetic spectacle of Cardinal O’Connor weeping for joy over the hideous event. We have now seen it the Wichita, Kansas’ Cathedral with a slightly more subdued version, geared no doubt, to the "more conservative" mid-west tastes. Both the New York production, and the Wichita, Kansas fiasco featured the same revivalist, Father Jim Goode.

Last, but not least, will be the revivals of William Branham, whose attraction comes from his unique interpretation of Joel 2:23. This has lead to some for the most bizarre end time cults. Branham’s teachings show up in the background of that revivalist group, Promise Keepers.

As it was noted in Part I, Branham, like Promise Keepers, promoted "unity," believing that denominationalism is "the mark of the beast". He taught that Eve produced children of the devil because she dallied sexually with the devil in the garden; he taught equality of pyramidology and zodiac signs with Scripture would eventually result in the perfect man passing through many stages on the way to godhood. Branham’s teachings are known as those of the "Manifest Sons of God," or the Doctrine of "The Latter Rain." They are very dangerous to any institutional Church, for Brahman taught his disciples how to lead folks out of the institutional Church and into the small groups — like Promise Keepers.

This is not Catholic Church history at all. It is scored by thoughtful Protestants and Catholic scholars alike. Must we accept the worst aspects of Protestantism and call it "revival"? Not only are the methods and means designed to wipe out thoughtful analysis and Catechism learning, but there is certainly error here in the history; error which offends thoughtful Protestant scholars, as well as Catholics. Anything which trashes the Trinity and leaves Jesus knocking at the door, unheard because it is too loud inside for Him to be heard — does not deserve to occupy the place of honor in a Diocese — the Cathedral.

In Hot Pursuit of the Millennium

One thing Catholics need to know is that "revival" in the Roman Catholic Church is supposed to "help establish the momentum so important to the success of that (millennium) celebration of the Year 2000"!27 Millennium celebrations have a tendency to bring out the worst in everyone and everything, most notably as my Catholic Bible Dictionary tiredly notes, because of the erroneous interpretations of scripture that would tip the political "balance of power" in favor of the Christians who would like to seize the "thousand year" reign with Jesus and they would rule, with an "iron fist".

It is interesting that the closer we draw to this magnetized thousand year mark, the less we see the one true Catholic Church of Jesus Christ being put forth by those who should be leading the way. For instance, the pastor of St. Jude Church in Wichita put a note in the Church Newsletter of Mary 1996, about the revivalistic "Promise Keeper’s sect": "our faith is scarcely represented in stadium events like Promise Keepers. But, oh, what fertile soil it is. A minimum 10% of the total attendance come forward in each and every event to give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. We want them to know that the doors to the Catholic Church are just as open as any other church."

And why not, if the Roman Catholic Church is just another church revelling in revivaling?

Lastly, to show how much we are "just like any other" these days, the March 24th "Revival" was billed as a way for lapsed Catholics to touch base with the Church once again, but the usual offerings for returning to the Church were not there — opportunity for Confession, for instance. Instead, the "altar call" was given for folks to come forward and pledge themselves to the Bishop.

Part III

Parts I and II of this article have established that Promise Keepers is a Protestant revivalist sect founded in questionable doctrine at best, and Scriptural and doctrinal error at worst. Part II dealt at length with the invasion of the Roman Catholic Church (at its highest levels) of Protestant revivalist fever, showing also how Promise Keepers inside the Church would feel "right at home" with this "worship" based on emotional experience of God. As we reported, Jesus was absent by name.

Every "experience" was claimed as a movement of the Spirit. A very old, but still timely book entitled The Question Box, pp.13-14, instructs us on emotion and religion: "The Holy Roman Catholic Church protests most strongly against a religion of mere subjective feeling, which at revival meetings, under stress of great nervous excitement, makes the emotions take the place of rational conviction. There is nothing in the Scriptures to warrant an absolute certainty of salvation. On the contrary they declare that, ‘No man knoweth whether he be worthy of love or hatred.’ (Eccles. 9:1), and warns us to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’." (Phil. 2:12)

The Catholic Church, while cultivating rational religious emotion, safeguards her children against all emotional delusion by declaring Faith an "act of the intellect guided by an upright will, and helped by God’s grace."28

Contrary to what goes on even in so-called "Catholic Revivals"29 the Church teaches, "Conversion is possible only by a heartfelt sorrow for sin committed, and confession of the same to a priest (Cor. 2:20) with a firm promise to sin no more." A Catholic knows there is no danger of deception, because he believes in the authority of God, voiced to him by the Church Jesus Christ founded and resides in until the end of time.

Due to the complexity of the topic, it is necessary to re-cap a few points regarding the theological background and political overtones, largely because the image Promise Keepers paints for itself has become the public perception. It differs sharply from the picture I am painting here. This creates what some folks call "dissonance" in the human mind, which tends to want to "throw off" anything that creates anxiety or discomfort. Nevertheless, the information presented here is based on research and history as well as love of the Church.

Encounter Group Method

Several critical reviews of Promise Keepers have brought to light some serious theological flaws in the Promise Keepers model. One that deserves serious consideration is the Promise Keepers’ use of the encounter group format.

A method of follow-up with the men who have attended Promise Keeper mega rallies is an 8-week encounter group session based on The Promise Keepers Study Guide designed for small groups of men. (Note: In the Wichita, KS area, these small groups of men are known as "Brother to Brother".)

This study guide is based on the book The Masculine Journey; Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood by Robert Hicks and Deitrich Gruen. The study guide is currently in use across the country, and is offered for sale by Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

The program is based on the largely discredited 1970’s encounter group movement.30

The encounter group is a semi-structured group that falls within the psychological realm for the purpose of getting in touch with one’s feelings ... barriers and inhibitions are broken down in systematic fashion to encourage men to share feelings, attitudes and opinions with one another.

Promise Keepers follows this style format ... there are no rights and wrongs ... the text of the study guide assumes most men are leading dysfunctional, sinful, or very worldly Christian lives ... very little acknowledgment of the men who lead holy lives, as a consequence of which, those who do lead good and holy lives may be led to feel they are somehow abnormal.

Men are led deeper and deeper into introspection and sharing ... borrowing heavily from the encounter group strategies. The study guide drops the men off at this point, leaving them with their souls bared ... natural modesty and inhibitions have been broken down through the use of guided questions. "Ice breakers" have been used that ask such questions as "Have you had sex within the last week (with wife)?" Many wives would rightly feel betrayed if they realized that this information had been divulged to a group of men.

Hicks orients himself around the concept of men as "noble savages." Men are put through a workshop on how to get in touch with their "savage" self.

Hicks states that the second stage of a man’s journey is phallic. The focus on male genitalia in this chapter goes beyond the biblical, and straight into the New Age. Page 29 of Hick’s, The Masculine Journey, shamefully states, "Men have a ‘deep compulsion’ to worship with our phallus." They go so far as to refer to Jesus Christ as a "phallic sort of guy".

Inviting men to explore their sexual fantasies and reveal secrets about their sexual thoughts and behavior in the values-free context of an encounter group session is playing with fire. The study leads men through potentially intensive emotional turmoil, and abandons them at the doorstep of rituals and ceremonies that mimic pagan religions and bear little or no resemblance to the Christian faith.31

A Strange "Brotherhood"

Promise Keepers is using an old, but effective, tool; that of the basic encounter or T-Group. In the context of this group setting, total "sharing," which amounts to a group confession is encouraged. It is in this context that the Hick’s psycho-sexual stages of masculinity are explored, and inappropriate intimacies are encouraged. It is in this setting that men are held to accountability by other men, and judged as to their keeping of their commitment.

There are seven "promises" that some critics equate with the taking of oaths. These promises are so global, that the stated purpose of Promise Keepers, that of improving one’s own marriage and fathering, would seem to become inconsequential. Of special note is Promise #4: "A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values." We must ask, why the plural? This changes the perceived purpose of improving one’s own marriage and fatherhood to a "national salvation" mode of reviving marriage and the family.

As such, the proper criticisms we are reading in letters to the editor of the local newspaper are well taken. An example would be a young wife and mother complaining that the highly visible Promise Keepers in her neighborhood are always gone to small group meetings and stadium events, and her husband is aiding the wives left at home and providing male modeling for the children of the absent father.32

Due to the extremely emotional atmosphere, the stadium events as we see them on TV, show men making public confessions, sobbing, and being held and consoled by other men. It has always been a puzzlement to me how this emotional bonding with other men would improve a marriage, because emotional catharsis has a way of lifting burdens, eradicating guilt, if only temporarily, and leaving in place, immense gratitude for the one or ones viewed as instrumental for the cleansing. The waiting wife, or "suitable helper" as she is called in Promise Keeper language, receives an emotionally drained warrior, who will have to return to his newfound source of strength within the brotherhood to maintain his emotional "high."

Cursillo: Small Group Promise Keeper Look-a-like

Promise Keepers is a strange hybrid of revivalism and encounter group methods. But beyond this there is the questionable background of Promise Keeper’s founder, Bill McCartney. In Part I, we told you that Bill McCartney moved into the public eye out of a neo-Pentecostal experimental community named Word of God in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This community was formed by two men active on the Secretariat of Cursillo33 (another controversial small group phenomenon utilizing the same control and psychological tools as Promise Keepers.) The men, Ralph Martin and Steve Clark, moved into Catholic circles under false pretenses, obtaining jobs at the Catholic Newman Center on the University campus at Ann Arbor. They were fired when the Chaplain discovered they were active proselytizers for Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade.34 (Bright is also active in a networking sort of way with Promise Keepers.)

Most folks are familiar with Intervarsity Fellowships and various "athletes for Jesus" groups, most of which are spin-offs from Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade. Bright was attracted to the concept of German Pietism for most of his "born again" life, and as such was typical of the Evangelical mind, which the December 26, 1977 issue of Time Magazine said was traceable to 17th Century Germany and the work of Phillip Jacob Spencer.35

Secret Covenant Seals Charismatic Leaders into Cult

Promise Keepers utilizes the ‘small group dynamic’ at the parish level. The big attraction of the stadium events is to involve men in deeper psychological bonding to each other in weekly meeting groups usually called "Brother to Brother." Billed as "accountability" sessions, they have come under heavy fire as "open confession" groups exhibiting "Shepherding/Discipling" cult errors. This kind of control, with one man (the Shepherd) exerting spiritual and material power over the mind, soul and body of another (the Disciple) is a hallmark of the Word of God Community practices, which have drawn fire from the Vatican itself.

This is likely due to the secret covenant entered into by Martin and Clark with the leaders of Christian Growth Ministries (CGM) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They formed a command center called "The Council" and became a militant, apocalyptic group constantly engaged in a "struggle with evil".36

Absolute Obedience to Shepherd in all Things

The Word of God Pentecostals subsequently embraced the Shepherding/Discipling practices learned by their mentors within CGM, who were Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Derek Price, Don Basham and Ern Baxter, known as "the Shepherds." CGM is one of the most dynamic of the Evangelical latter day presentations aimed at fulfilling "The Great Commission," and worth examining. It too, has devotees and interlocking board members with Promise Keepers, most notably, John Wimber and his Kansas City Prophets (who, by the way, are the 1990’s version of the Manifest Sons of God.)37


The largest such congregation is that of Paul Cho in Korea who shepherds some 700,000 people through mass rallies and little home groupings ministered to by assistant pastors. Movements resembling Cho’s huge ministry are Renovare38, which acknowledges Cho’s huge ministry as a model for them.

Renovare is a New Age, open confession, small group ministry grown into an international movement. It was founded by Richard Foster of Friends (Quaker) College located right here in Wichita.

Renovare is a New Age, open confession, small group ministry grown into an international movement. It was founded by Richard Foster of Friends (Quaker) College located right here in Wichita, Kansas.

Cho is tied into John Wimber of the Vineyard through Wimber’s presence on the Reference Board of Renovare and his (Wimber’s) headship over what is known as "The Kansas City Prophets." .All of these groups "minister" with all sorts of so-called "signs and wonders," (not the least of which are healings, holy laughter, oinkings, barkings, slain-in-the-spirit gluing to the floor and obvious sexual gyrations being attributed to "the spirit").39

All of these "prophets and apostles" claim to communicate directly with God — with obviously no Church structure in their way. All these groups are connected to Promise Keepers, some directly and some indirectly. They use Shepherding/Discipling techniques to hold their sheep in the pen. Unfortunately, the Catholic Bishop of Wichita, as well as two of his religious, serve on the Wichita steering committee of this New Age, Renovare church growth plan. Also, to some people’s astonishment, Father Michael Scanlon of Steubenville University sits on the National Board of Reference with John Wimber and many lay ministers associated directly and indirectly with Promise Keepers.40

John Wimber has been invited to and has spoken at Steubenville. In July, 1995, Steubenville hosted what some folks think is a Catholic version of Promise Keepers. Nearly 700 men attended the "St. Joseph Covenant Keepers" gathering only to be addressed by the two top recruiters for Promise Keepers.41 All roads lead to the Promise Keepers stadium events, where, in time, Saint Joseph will be blasphemed along with the Holy Family as we informed you in Part I of this series.

"Steal from Your Congregation"

Bob Mumford, one of the original Fort Lauderdale Five who made the secret covenant with Ann Arbor, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle telling his audience of Growth Minsters to: "Go into your Church and look around and get yourself four new ones (Disciples). Steal out of your own congregation; begin to disciple them and then put them back in and let them begin to make disciples ... and do it quietly and sneakily." This San Francisco newspaper ended the article by reporting that Mumford told them to change their names and move to a new area, taking sometimes a whole congregation with them. (This information was taken from a Marilyn Bender tape on Shepherding/ Discipling and its Coalition on Revival political power.)

Renovare is "new church." Renew and Quakerism are almost indistinguishable, so the Catholic presence comes from a fatal attraction. Father Michael Scanlon, Scott Hahn, Father Benedict Groeschel, Father John Bertolucci, and Father Francis Martin seem to be connected with this overall network42 and they cooperate and appear with Ralph Martin, for instance, on Mother Angelica’s EWTN,43 giving all this "new church" an air of respectability. However, this is not unity; it is ultimately a betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church.

Shepherding/Discipling Ministries

In the 1980’s this same Fort Lauderdale Five was joined by Dennis Peacock (a "Bishop" in this anti-clerical scheme of things). It would be Peacock who would model for us what a Shepherd/Disciple is expected to do. This is made clear on the above-mentioned tape by Marilyn Bender, secretary to a man who was a rising star in the Religious Right takeover of Washington during the Reagan administration. Bender explains: "Colonel (Doner) was changing. The Colonel was invited to a weekend retreat at Half Moon Bay outside San Francisco. The subject of the retreat seemed to be the Colonel himself. After this he seemed very depressed, as it seemed he had been ‘raked over the coals’ by the Pastors in attendance. They told him of the behavioral changes he would need to make immediately in order for him to fulfill his ‘God called’ job as a world leader. He was told what he could read and not read. He was urged to get married ‘right away’ (and in fact did not marry his long time sweetheart, but instead married the secretary of his Shepherd, Peacock). He said, he had entered into a lifetime ‘covenant’ with his Shepherd, calling his immediate circle of Shepherding acquaintances his ‘family.’ He consulted Peacock on everything."44

Are the Promise Keepers in trouble? The above indicates just how much trouble they can get into.

Doner, Bob Mumford and Dennis Peacock are on the steering committee of the politically powerful Coalition on Revival (COR), along with John Wimber of the Vineyard Church, founder of Promise Keepers, and two of Promise Keepers key speakers, Wellington Boone and E.V. Hill.45

The Coalition on Revival links pastors across the nation into a "covenant kind of promise unto death" that is political and designed to "save the nation," even the world. It is to develop a "Christian Worldview" in nine spheres of everyday life, with the final documents reflecting those things that are essential and non-negotiable to the Christian. If he cannot adhere to the COR consensus, he cannot consider himself a member of the Body of Christ — he is considered to have denied the Faith. (Keep in mind this is a political organization aimed at seizing political power.)

COR likens its 42 Articles of Affirmations and Denials to Luther’s "Ninety-five Theses" that sparked the Reformation. COR claims that it is nailing a new, more complete form of Luther’s Theses to the door of the modern Church.46 Mind you, the intent of all this "unity" (in their own words) is to form one church (not the Roman Catholic, of course). They complain that they cannot "incarnate" the body of Christ in a disunited church.47

There’s More to it than Just Revival

Promise Keeper speakers, as well as their erstwhile founder himself, are all intertwined with what appears to be a massive push to seize political power and impose a Second Protestant Revolution upon the people of this nation — just as the book by Jeremy Rifkin entitled The Emerging Order stated back in the 1970’s. Rifkin’s book received endorsements from every leading Evangelical in the nation, even though it laid out a dreadful population-reduction-by-any-means policy based on Global 2000 faulty predictions. (Global 2000 is working State Department Policy calling for the death of 2 billion people by the year 2000 in order to balance and harmonize population with resources.)

Do not be fooled into thinking that these folks are far from accomplishing their goal of seizing America to wield world-wide domination over mind, soul and body. One only needs to contemplate the Republican sweep under the Futurist population controller-through-economics (Newt Gingrich and his freshmen zealots) and realize that while the Senate was (up until now) at least a small barrier to their triumph, it will not remain so with Bob Dole resigning. Waiting in the wings and primed to take his place will be Trenton Lott, who can be considered one of the "team" now in place to accomplish "The Second Protestant Revolution."48 Is it any wonder that we worry when the Promise Keepers issue a call to involve pastors (not in any leadership way,) but in a "facilitator" sort of way where the Promise Keeper Point Men simply tell the pastor what they want and he approves it? Is it any wonder, then that Promise Keeper men are advised, it is their job to make their pastor’s life easier — give him a vacation, fix him meals, see that the collection plate is filled every Sunday. What pastor is going to look beyond the sudden luxury and look for serious sins perhaps that his good friends might have fallen into? Is he not being compromised just as political candidates are — to let this good thing go and run its course, to look the other way if something disturbing comes along? The Shepherding call out of the Church now has been made known, and can any pastor afford to let go of his sheep after having been warned?

A Frightening Parallel

Last, but not least is the worry of the all male "bund" or male bonding and its resemblance to the all-male cults of the Fascist era of Mussolini and Hitler. Do we accept a 1990’s version as being beyond a critical look because it makes men feel good after they have suffered devastation by the Feminist movement? Do we accept this amazingly similar buildup of men as being worthy of uncritical acceptance due to the massive family problems of this era? I think not. Though the mention of this may seem a bit far-fetched, it is worthy of consideration since the similarity is striking: open air stadiums, music aimed at stirring the senses and creating a "warrior" subconscious perception of man and his job. The job is laid out quite clearly by Bill McCartney, "We’re calling men of God to battle — we will retreat no more. We’re going to contest anything that sets itself up against the name of Jesus Christ."49 This "holy war" or jihad theme is duplicated by even the most gentle and genial speakers to Promise Keepers, such as James Dobson and Charles Swindoll who constantly employ sports and military metaphors when addressing the men.50 Will this end in violence? Will those who oppose Promise Keepers be looked upon as "thwarting the work of the spirit" and therefore be worthy of physical assault?

Can A Roman Catholic be a Promise Keeper?

In conclusion, to answer the question "Can A Roman Catholic be a Promise Keeper?" The answer is a resounding NO! As outlined in Part I, the six concerns that we attempted to address in this series were:

1) The Protestant/revivalist roots of Promise Keepers;

2) The questionable background of its founder;

3) The anti-Catholicism evident in this movement, despite its appeal for "unity";

4) The perverted teaching about Saint Joseph and the Holy Family found in one of its key writings;

5) The use of Rogerian "encounter group methods" — actually therapy groups;

6) The frightening parallel with the all male bonds or groups of the Fascist era of Mussolini and Hitler.

We also pointed out in Part II that the Promise Keeper brand of revivalism has now entered parish Churches and has become accepted by diocesan bishops.

This writer, as well as the Catholic Family News, has received many encouraging and grateful comments for running this series. We have also come under considerable fire for sounding the alarm against Promise Keepers. But the alarm must be sounded. The above points mentioned should be enough to make any reasonable Catholic keep his distance from this strange phenomenon. But, taking this one step further, Catholics should understand that neither Promise Keepers, nor any other Protestant organization, contains the answer to social ills, since the Protestant religion, being man-made, exists and operates in stubborn opposition to the will of Christ Who founded one true Holy Catholic Church.

A simple re-reading and application of Pope Pius XI’s excellent encyclical on Christian Marriage, Casti Cannubii, the pre-Vatican II Catholic books on marriage and the family, and the traditional Catholic catechism are more than sufficient to form men to become good Catholic husbands and fathers. The model for Catholic manhood is found in the person of Jesus Christ and in the imitation of the foster-father of Jesus, whose virtues are beautifully enunciated in the Litany of Saint Joseph.


1. Time Magazine, Nov. 6, 1995

2. Washington Post, Nov. 18, 1995

3. Life Insight, December 1995, A Publication of the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-life Activities, Vol. 6, No. 10

4. Christianity Today, Feb. 6, 1995: Manhood’s Great Awakening

5. Audiotape by Marilyn Bender

6. The word "overcome" is very important, and carries with it the Hindu teaching of "bridging" from the lower self to the "oversoul" or perfected "godman".

7. Christianity Today, Jan. 8, 1996

8. May 26, 1995 letter to Ann Reynolds and signed by Dietrich Gruen.

9. Info. obtained from promotional flyer put out by the Gruen Group.

10. The Wichita Eagle of Mar. 3, 1996 noted that filling in this profile at the local Canfield meeting was a highlight of the seminar. These men, desiring to be good fathers, are once again, caught "in the web".

11. pp. 117-118

12. 18. Pable, Martin, OFM, Cap., Ligorian, June 1995, New Hope for Fathers.

13. Letter to the editor by Father M. Francis Mannion of Salt Lake City, Utah and carried in Educational Research Institute’s June 1989 newsletter, original in NCR, Apr. 21, 1989.

14. Sojourners, The Holiness of Human Sexuality, Oct. 16, 1982.

15. Ibid

16. Educational Research Institute newsletter, June 1989

17. St. Jude Parish bulletin, Wichita, KS, October 1995

18. The New York Catholic, Feb. 8, 1996

19. Kwanza article, CFN, December 1995 for more on Ealey

20. Information of Newman and his parochial sermons obtained from John N\Henry Newman, selected sermons, Paulist Press

21. Op. Cit. The Creationists as well as What Time Shall Be No More, pgs. 13-14 of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

22. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, pg. 63

23. Ibid p. 75

24. Ibid

25. It is clear that this is the Protestant notion of justification. The correct Catholic teaching is that man is justified through the sacrament of baptism and through perseverance in sanctifying grace.

26. The Catholic New York, Feb. 8, 1996

27. Catholic advance, Feb. 2, 1996

28. Op. cit. from The Catholic Layman publication on Cursillo, undated

29. See June’96 CFN for Part II of this series

30. It would be this encounter model that ravaged the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Order of Nuns in Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Thousands of nuns and laypeople lost their Faith, and an entire Catholic school system was lost to the Church.

31. The preceding, with the exception of those notes recognized as "Notes:" are taken from The Christian Conscience

in an article entitled: Promise Keepers: Encountering Guys at Risk, Jan. 1995. The Christian Conscience, P. O. Box 17346, Des Moines, IA 50317-0346, $1.00 per single issue reprint.

32. Eagle, the Wichita Newspaper, Letter to the Editor entitled A Real Promise by Kelly Badke, Wichita, KS., November 22, 1995

33. National Catholic Reporter, November 18, 1988, "Word of God Network Wants to Save the World"

34. Ibid.

35. Distant Drums, February’89, "Toward An evangelical America"

36. Covert Action, #27 Special Edition on the Religious Right.

37. See May’96 Catholic Family News, Part I of this article for information on the Manifest Sons of God.

38. Report taken by personal attendance at the Renovare "opener" in Wichita, KS 1989, conducted by Richard Foster of Friends University at the Central Community Church

39. Media Spotlight, Special Report on "latter Day Prophets", The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection; also The Orator, March 4, 1995, "The Blessing, the Vineyard and Charismatic Heresy"

40. Renovare brochure advertising the 1989 Wichita "gathering" at Central Community Church

41. Brochure put out by Steubenville University advertising the July’95 gathering of nearly 700 men under the impression they were going to be introduced to a Catholic men’s movement. The same militarism, "raise the Standard" along with key Promise Keeper promotional leaders was what they got.

42. Named and pictured in a small brochure on Evangelism for the 1990’s — picked up in a Wichita Catholic Hospital waiting room. They form the "Fire" team of Charismatic renewal.

43. Comments made about Ralph Martin on Mother Angelica’s show in response to my criticisms of Martin and the Word of God Community — Catholic Radio Hour, Station WVOA in Syracuse, New York, June 6, 1996

44. Marilyn Bender Tape

45. Letterhead stationary from Coalition on Revival and Boone pictured as a presenter to that group, with E.V. Hill being named in November’89 as member of both COR and the elitist and politically powerful Council for National Policy! (Remember the "hit him, hit him, hit him" in the stadium as Hill excites the Promise Keeper men into visualizing beating the devil with their fists in Part I of this series.)

46. Media Spotlight, Special Report on "Coalition on Revival, Putting Feed on the Dominionists’ Agenda"

47. A.D. 2000 and Beyond handbook

48. General information gleaned from newspaper articles and knowledge of his close ties to Newt Gingrich and activity dating back to the Religious Right Revolution during the Reagan years, (& the Shepherding forces surrounding Col. Doner)

49. Christianity Today, February 6, 1995

50. Ibid.

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