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Text Sermons : ~Other Speakers A-F : Discernment Reasearch Articles : An Open Letter to Bill McCartney by Bill Randles

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From Pastor Bill Randles,
Believers In Grace Fellowship Church
August 22, 1995
Dear Mr. McCartney,

My name is Bill Randles and I am the pastor of Believers in Grace Fellowship Church that I founded in 1982. I am writing to express certain reservations and concerns I have about Promise Keepers.

The reason this is an open letter is because there are probably thousands of other pastors who have similar reservations. You know this also because you referred to this at a meeting in Detroit on April 29, 1995. In fact, I have listened to that message carefully, and heard you make some very emphatic statements about the reluctance on the part of pastors to ally themselves with Promise Keepers. You actually went so far as to say that any clergyman who isn't planning to go to your February 1996 Pastors' Gathering in Atlanta "needs to be able to tell us why he doesn't want to go."

Mr. McCartney, this is my response to your brotherly challenge. I welcome the opportunity to tell you what my reservations and concerns about P.K. actually are. First of all, however, in the interest of clarity, let me transcribe for you that portion of your speech which prompted the writing of this letter. You said in Detroit:

"We have a great army that we are assembling. They're the Christian men of this nation. However, our leadership, our clergy are not uniform. Our clergy are divided. Division is many visions. There's no unity of command. . . there is tremendous division in our clergy. We have to assume that responsibility. We have to say, 'Are we impacting our clergy in a way that's going to take them and make them all that they have to be in order to lead this army because the shepherds are the ones God's cho-sen to lead us out of here.' We are not to go out of here and lead ourselves. We're to go out of here and to go back to our bodies, our church bodies, and be led by our shepherd. God has hand-picked them, He's gifted them, He's trained them, He's invested in them, He's nurtured them. . . .

"Now, I think many of you are in touch with the fact that we're having a pastors' gathering in Atlanta on February 12th, 13th and 14th. This gathering in Atlanta should exceed 100,000 clergymen. Why? Because we have many more than that, and every single one of them ought to be there. We can't have anybody pass up that meeting. If a guy says that he doesn't want to go, he needs to be able to tell us why he doesn't want to go. 'Why wouldn't you want to be a part of what God wants to do with His hand-picked leaders?' We need to understand that our clergymen, many of them, are reluctant to go. Many of you come from churches and your clergymen have never been to a Promise Keepers gathering because they're keeping a distance from us. You need to go back and tell them: Promise Keepers wants to come along side you and be everything you need by encouraging [your] men and giving resources.

"Now listen to me, men. February 12th, 13th and 14th to me is not a coincidence that it comes over Valentine's Day. I think we're going to have another St. Valentine's Day massacre. I think Almighty God is going to rip open the hearts of our leaders. I think He's going to tear them open. And I think he's going to put them back together again as one. One leadership. We've got to have one leadership, one leadership only" (Promise Keepers, Detroit Silver Dome, April 29, 1995).


Mr. McCartney, my response to that is a simple question. What do you mean when you call for the clergy to become one leadership? In fact, minutes after, you made another statement about the things that we could do "if we are in control, if we come together, if our unity of command responds." You said we can accomplish things like "pay off the national debt, and feed the poor, . . we can dissolve gangs, . . and be an impact in the inner city."

These kinds of statements underscore my initial reservations. I am very cautious when the call is made for "One Leadership" and "Unity of Command." On the one hand, I am troubled by this because in actual reality, the church already is under one leadership. Jesus Christ is Himself the Head of the Church! If you and I each submit to His headship through obedience to His Word, we are already in unity and don't need to manufacture it. Evidently, what you are calling for is one (human) leadership and one unity of (human) command.

Mr.McCartney, there already is an organization claiming that kind of leadership: the Roman Catholic Church under the headship of the Pope. Because of this "One human leadership and command," almost a billion people are locked in spiritual bondage.

The call for clergy to become one leadership and unity of command reminds me of the shepherding movement of the 1970s and 80s, which sprang out of the Word of God charismatic community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was nurtured by the Fort Lauderdale five: Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Don Basham, Charles Simpson and Ernie Baxter. You mention in Ashes to Glory, that you enjoyed fellowship with the Word of God Community. Have you perhaps been influenced by that particular vision of church government?

I have a threefold problem with a humanly centralized church leadership, and unity of command:

(1) it has to be a man-made unity, and it denies the reality of the unity of the Spirit that all Christians currently partake of;

(2) it concentrates a tremendous amount of influence into the hands of well meaning but sinful men;

(3) finally, where there is a centralized, carnally unified command, it makes it easier for deception and manipulation of the Church by Satan.

Look at the dark ages under the Papacy! I am glad that the church doesn't have that kind of unity today (yet). Ours is a spiritual unity based on devotion to Jesus, not a political unity based on "Shepherding" principles. The way things are now, Satan has to deceive the Christians one church at a time, but under a "unified command," all he has to do is deceive the leadership.

Mr. McCartney, a second but closely related concern I have is with the ecumenical unity promoted by P.K. Of course, I believe in the true ecumenism: the communion of all true saints everywhere on earth, based on the truth of the gospel. But I am extremely wary of the "unity-at-the-expense-of-truth" movement. People are being encouraged to de-emphasize doctrines so they can come together as though doctrine is a meaningless detail. What is doctrine, but the body of the truth entrusted to the saints once and for all?

Doctrine divides because truth divides. There are many denominational barriers that should be kept in place. The whole basis for unity is the unity of the faith (truth), a faith which has a content and makes specific demands of people. Any other basis for unity, such as maleness, politics, social concerns, etc, will only prove to be a house built on sand.

Mr. McCartney, do you believe the following statement made by the Pope?

"On this universal level, if victory comes, it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her, because He wants the church's victories now and in the future, to be linked to her" (John Paul II, from "Crossing the Threshold of Hope").

How am I to find common ground with anyone who believes this way? What basis for fellowship is there? Scripture commands us not to fellowship or even wish Godspeed to those who deny the doctrine of Christ.

Another example would be this statement from the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, page 128, section 460:

"The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature.......For The Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in His divinity, assumed our nature so that He, made man, might make men Gods."

Mr. McCartney, we are to refute such heresies! How am I to find spiritual unity with people who worship Mary or believe they will become gods? While I can find all sorts of commonalities on the basis of being a human being, or the desire that a man be a better father, husband, have integrity, purity, etc., I would hardly mistake those things for Christian Revival. If P.K. is supposed to be a great move of God, doesn't truth and discernment count for anything? What is to stop the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses from starting P.K. chapters in their denominations? Why not? They can make identical promises.

Mr. McCartney, is Promise Keepers going to be used to mobilize worldwide support for a bimillennial celebration of Jesus' 2000th birthday and Jubilee? The reason I ask is because of the favorable review in the July/Aug 1995 New Man magazine (the official P.K. magazine) of Jay Gary's book, The Star of 2000. Gary's self-published book advocates such a celebration.

Are you aware, Mr. McCartney, that in a recent Spiritual Counterfeits Project article entitled, "Sign of the Times: Evangelicals and New Agers Together," Mr. Gary is the subject of much concern? Of particular concern is his recent association with former assistant secretary general of the U.N. and well known New Age author, Robert Muller, who wrote "New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality". This book amounts to a call to all religions to find common ground and work together for a one-world religion.

This S.C.P. article, which I am enclosing, should sober anyone who is taking Mr. Gary and his plans for a bimillennial birthday celebration for Jesus seriously. The article states that Gary invited Robert Muller to be a key adviser for his B.E.G.I.N. organization (Bimillennial Global Interactive Network). In Gary's book, "The Star of 2000", he cites a book by Muller called "First Lady of The World" in which Muller describes how the UN could prepare for the bimillennial celebration. In a March/April 1992 publication of Gary's Bimillennial Research Report, another of Muller's books, "The Birth of A Global Civilization", is recommended. Gary describes it as an "inspiring look at our emerging global system, including new global human rights, global networking, global core curriculum and global celebrations culminating in the year 2000. Just a paragraph at the end of this recommended book will give you an idea where Muller comes from:

"And God saw that all nations of the earth, black and white, poor and rich, from North and South, from East and West and of all creeds were sending their emissaries to a tall glass house on the shores of the river of the rising sun on the island of Manhattan, to study together, to think together, and to care together for the world and all its people. And God said that is good. And it was the first day of the NEW AGE of the earth" (Robert Muller, The Birth of a Global Civilization, p. 134; CAPS OURS).

Mr. McCartney, all I have to go by is what P.K. actually says or does. As far as I know, when New Man, the official voice of P.K., favorably reviews Jay Gary's book, they are indirectly promoting him and his ideas. Again I ask, is P.K. going to be used to mobilize worldwide support for a bimillennial celebration of Jesus' Birthday in the year 2000, a celebration already intertwined with the New Age movement?

I would like to know why, Mr. McCartney, when you had 50,000 turned on, pumped up, spiritually hungry men, of all the books you could have chosen to offer for spiritual growth you chose "The Masculine Journey" by Robert Hicks? It is my understanding that 50,000 of these books were distributed at Boulder in 1993. The book actually has the P.K. imprimatur on it. Do you honestly subscribe to Hick's concept of the Phallic Male? Doesn't it bother you that Hicks quotes New Age authors Sam Keen and Robert Bly without any warning? Hicks sets off his chapter entitled "The Phallic Male" with a quote from Keen's New Age bestseller "Fire in the Belly". The quote is "The loins are the place of judgment" (p. 47).

Are you trying yet to implement Hick's statement on page 51? "We are called to worship God as phallic kinds of guys, not as some sort of androgynous, neutered non-males, or the feminized males so popular in many feminist enlightened churches. We are told by God to worship Him in accordance to what we are - phallic men."

This is growth for men? When did the apostles even remotely encourage anything like this? I could give you countless other examples of this kind out of Hicks book but I don't need to.

What were you thinking this book would offer when you promoted it? Was there some particular emphasis in this book that you thought would help men spiritually? Maybe you see the need for initiation rites as Hicks advocates in his accompanying workbook under the section, "Exploring the Issues with other Men":

"Our culture has presented many initiation rites or passages to manhood that are associated with the phallus. Which ones have you experienced? Do you have a story to share with other men about one such event?"

Do you lament, as Hicks does, that the church doesn't offer any alternative initiation rites, such as circumcision? In his "Masculine Journey", which P.K. promotes, Hicks teaches us that somehow or other we should celebrate the different passages of a young man's life - such as his first drunk or sexual experience (p. 177):

"I'm sure many would balk at my thought of celebrating the experience of sin. I'm not sure how we could do it. But I do know we need to do it. For example, we usually give the teenagers in our churches such a massive dose of condemnation regarding their first experiences with sin that I sometimes wonder how any of them recover. Maybe we could take a different approach. Instead of jumping all over them when they have their first experience with sex or drugs, we could look upon this as a teachable moment and a rite of passage. Is this putting a benediction on sin? Of course not, but perhaps at this point the true elders could come forward and confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being human. Then they could move on to all the important issues of forgiveness and restoration, but this time on common ground, with the young person as a fellow sinner!"

Mr. McCartney, do you believe in this kind of celebration? If not, why promote it? At the end of "The Masculine Journey" there's a P.K. promotion that states, "P.K. wants to provide men's materials (like this book)." And you wonder why pastors are reluctant to let you 'help them'?

Frankly, Mr. McCartney, another huge reservation that I am having with P.K. is the fact that James Ryle, a man who claims that God told him the Beatles were anointed to bring forth a worldwide revival and 'usher in my (God's) spirit,' is your pastor and mentor. According to Ryle, it wasn't until 1970 that God removed his anointing from the Beatles. (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was anointed by God? 1970 was the year the Beatles broke up!). I am leary of a 'prophet' who discerns the demonic as anointed.

Let's face it, although P.K. is rapidly growing and attracting an increasingly diverse portion of the Church, it is primarily led by Vineyardites. The 'Prophet' Ryle is on the board of directors, Randy Phillips is the president, and you go to Ryle's church (you told us to explain why I won't attend the Saint Valentines Day Massacre).

I need to tell you I have great reservations about the Vineyard movement. Your Pastor and mentor is one example, with his unscriptural prophecies. It is not my intention to paint every Vineyard Church with a broad brush.

I believe there are, no doubt, many fine Christians in the movement who want nothing more than the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But we have to remember that it was the Vineyard movement who by and large promoted the Kansas City prophets and have kept them in circulation to this day.

The mystical "Toronto Blessing" is primarily a Vineyard phenomena although there are many Vineyard congregations who don't claim it. What makes P.K. different from the other Vineyard ventures? Mr. McCartney, do you believe in the validity of this "Laughing Revival?" Can a fountain bring forth both sweet and bitter water?

I applaud your many charges for men to become "men of integrity," family men, "men of purity" and so forth, but I notice that there isn't that much of a call for men to be men of discernment.

If you truly want to know where many of us pastors are coming from, I'll tell you. A lot of us don't see the lack of physical unity, nor lack of social action, nor lack of signs and wonders, as the true challenge of the last days church. According to II Thess. 2, the ultimate issue facing us is "will we love the truth, more than the lie, in the face of a false 'revival' of lying signs and wonders?" This is why many of us are seeing truth as the ultimate issue, not tolerance.

Of course, I love all Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. All of these "name the name of Jesus"! But almost all of them worship a different Jesus. I can't claim most of the above as brothers in Christ. If a Mormon keeps all seven of your promises that could well make him a moral person, but that moral Mormon will go right to Hell. Why? Because in spite of his morality, unity, good fathering skills, marital fidelity, he's still doomed because he doesn't believe the testimony God gave of His Son. What I am saying is this: What a person believes shouldn't be downplayed as insignificant. We should rather preach the Word of God without compromise, no matter how much it divides.

"Broad is the road that leads to destruction."

Finally Mr. McCartney, I am wary of P.K. because it seems to be such a broad, inclusive way. Catholics, Mormons, and even homosexuals are encouraged to be "included and welcomed in all our events."

There are common denominators that anyone can stress that almost every human being can admit to. But when the true God-ordained organization, the Church, upholds the Word of God, it divides people either onto the broad way that leads to destruction or the narrow way that leads to life. A telltale sign that there is something wrong is the press being given to Promise Keepers by the worldly media. Why is the world promoting your organization when Jesus said the world would hate us as it hated Him? God has an organism already, the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, and the world rejects it. God's work is not based on being male or female, Jew nor Greek nor bond or free. Whosoever will, may come.

These are just a few of my concerns about P.K.

May the Lord inspire a healthy dialogue on this subject,

Bill Randles,

Promoting Revival to this Generation.
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