Our Unfortunate Experience With Promise Keepers

From: John Beardsley

To leaders of the men's class of (I removed name) Church, I want to thank you for your openness, and genuine prayerful spirit demonstrated in the class. It is obvious I am in the midst of Spirit filled men, and men who hunger for the deeper truths about God. Not only do you demonstrate a Spirit of prayer but your actions speak of your faith, I am overwhelmed and can only praise God for this growing fellowship.

Recently however, I was overwhelmed in another way, by the material being studied. I heard at least one other voice expressing their concern as well. I don't want to come on too strong, but I am not a stranger to the leaders of Promise Keepers, and I believe the intent of drawing men together in learning and sharing is good, but their sources for ideas need to be reexamined.

Please read the following carefully and consider the statements of this letter as from a very concerned brother in Christ who only seeks what is true.

I am calling the ministry of Gary Smalley & John Trent into question along with a portion of the Promise Keeper ministry. For the first portion of this letter my initial focus is on the book by Dr. Robert Hicks.

On October 3, 1993 in the men's class we started into the workbook section about "Exploring the issues with other men" The first question deals with men growing up with confused models of sexuality, the second about fighting the argument of "God made me this way," the third and fourth questions is where we get into trouble, (pages 32-34 of the Masculine Journey Workbook)

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

- When I was potty trained and stopped wetting my bed - Pubic hair and growth - An unfortunate experience with pornography - My first dating experience - My first really embarrassing moment with a girl - The wedding night - Conceiving my first child - other:

4. If only the church had alternative initiation rites to the ones offered above. What creative alternative celebrations can you think of?"

Why do Christians need to talk about these things? Why so much emphasis on the penis? Freudian psychology is based upon genitalia and the discussion these matters, the Bible condemns such discussions. If we are dead to sin should these questions even be allowed in the Church? For example: What experience with porn and my penis could be discussed without the presence of sin? What experience about my first date and my penis be discussed without sin? (not much) What experience about my penis and my wedding night would be permissible to discuss with other men, does not my body now belong to my wife, how dare I discuss such intimacy with anyone else but her? Conceiving my first child, what's to discuss that would not violate my vows, or my conscience before God?

Dr. Hicks doesn't stop here, but wants men to have "creative alternative initiation rites" to those listed above. How can this be? Again this is not possible without sin.

What does Dr. Hicks base his teaching on? The Bible, as seen through the eyes of Basic Secular Psychology. On page 176-177 Dr. Hicks discusses the matter of initiation, I was determined to understand what he was trying to say in the workbook insert provided Sunday and here is another quote, "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. " To defend (rationalize) his point he talks about how we condemn our teens when "--- they have their first experience with the police, or their first drunk, or their first experience with sex or drugs---" He says we could look upon any of these "--- as a teachable moment and a rite of passage ---" Then he says the "true elders could come forward and confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being human." Then Hicks closes the paragraph saying "that is when we can move on to forgiveness and restoration!" I can not believe any Christian could make such statements unless they are deceived, or in a terrible backslidden state! Brothers, I admonish you to put this material in it's proper place. (the trash can!)

Romans 8:5-6 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.

The majority of the book keeps referring back to the phallus (penis). The first 70 pages do so clearly and so does the last chapter "A New Male Journey" which is where I quoted from above. I believe the Promise Keepers idea of bringing men together in Christ is noble, but not with such ignoble teachings as this. Dr. Hicks needs prayer, in addition to this I detect problems in who he holds dear, when he makes a point to quote Charles Darwin of all people at the beginning of Chapter 2, "Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."

Dr. Hicks is more than a little confused brothers, our origin is divine, we are created in God's likeness, not through evolution!

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Here is some Information about Gary Smalley's & John Trent's Video Tape Series "Love is a Decision" made in late 1991, which is still presented today in churches throughout America:

In the first tape Smalley provides some entertaining scientific reasons for the different behaviors of men and women. Using material from a Dr. Restak, Smalley explains women are more emotional because they use more of the right side of the brain then men, and men are more left-brained and not as emotional. Smalley gives a dissertation on how this difference takes place in the womb of the expectant mother. He explains the unborn boy at some point in the pregnancy has his brain washed with the hormone testosterone, causing the right and the left side not to talk as well to each other as with a woman. Smalley even jokes saying you could say men are "brain-damaged" due to the hormone. This is the first tape of six and is the foundation for the series.

The truth of this matter is Gary Smalley lied when he taught this as fact, the fact is Dr. Restak never presented this as a fact, but as an idea! Gary Smalley received letters on this error and to date he has not changed his position. The sad part of this is even the world around us knows this is false, and I have personally heard the media laugh about the right-brain left-brain teachings of Smalley's Ministry. Does this not bring reproach to the Gospel? (I have much more material on this matter and others but for this letter I will cut it short) [Even more recently in 1996 science has demonstrated that the male and female brains work in much the same way, completely contradicting Smalley’s absurd notions!]

As for John Trent, he talks about personality traits, not like those of the Bible, but astrology. Trent mentions one bible verse maybe two for the whole time he speaks. He compares our behaviors to animals, he says this is why we act the way we due as he has you compare your actions to a lion, a dog, or a bear, I believe there may have been others as well. What is the point of such teachings with Christians?

To conclude I have pointed out Dr. Hicks for some reason unknown to me that we need to sin, celebrate sin and then seek forgiveness and restoration. Nothing can be farther from God's truth.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Smalley misrepresents an idea as truth, and still teaches it today, an idea which followed to it's logical conclusion gives an excuse for sin. (Charles Darwin presented evolution as an "idea," look where that idea has gone!) Even recently the homosexuals have been trying to use ideas like those taught by Smalley to give reason to defend their behavior. Trent uses teachings which have their roots in Astrology, need I say more? The common factor for all three of these men is seldom do they use the Bible unless it's convenient. Through out the video tape series the Bible was a secondary, not primary source of truth. I admonish anyone using their materials to use great caution.

2 Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Both Gary Smalley and John Trent are very "entertaining" and "fun" to listen to, but don't be too distracted that you miss their message, in the tape series not once is sin mentioned as a problem as a barrier to communication in the family, or that the Holy Spirit can change your hearts.

1 Timothy 1:5-7 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

2 Timothy 3:13-14 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them];

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

1 Corinthians 1:19-20 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

SIGNED John A. Beardsley III A Concerned Brother in Christ

Reprinted 4/29/95 only references added from original letter Added note Smalley and Trent are regular PK Speakers