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Promise Keepers: Part 2 

 

INTERVIEW WITH STEVE CHAVIS, After Stand in the Gap

National Spokesman for Promise Keepers

OCT. 21, 1997- 1:35 P.M.

 

V: I am sure you are pleased with the Stand In The Gap march.

Steve Chavis: We are. It is really more than we asked for in terms of the attitude of the men and the unity of the men, the diversity of the men who came and the support from so many of our sisters from all over the country and there in DC. I saw hundreds of women there in support.

Q: Oh, women attended the rally, I didnít realize that.

Q: There was apparently lots of media coverage regarding the march and I am wondering if you could verify a statement made by Bill McCartney to Larry King. That statement was that Bill McCartney said he was a born-again Catholic. Is that correct?

SC: He did say that, yes.

Q: If you recall, the questions I asked you (in June), and one of the very first questions was basically similar to that -- Could you explain, when you would defend unity of denominations, why you and Eric Wardell refused to state Bill McCartney was a born-again Christian, when I had asked that in my previous questions -- as to whether Bill McCartney had ever renounced Catholicism?

SC: Many people have asked and called on him to do that and he hasnít done it. He does not attend the Catholic Church now. He does attend the Vineyard church.

Q: Yes I know thatís what you said, but when he publicly states that he is a born-again Catholic that says to me that he still believes in the Catholic church to some extent.

SC: I know that he believes in Jesus Christ Ėhe believes in being born-again. Thatís what he believes.

Q: Bill McCartney also stated on NBC Meet The Press this quote: "I rely on my Pastor to define the truth for me"-- meaning of course, James Ryle of the Vineyard Fellowship. In my questions before, you affirmed to me that Bill McCartney is viewed as quote, "the Prophetic Word". -According to, I believe, Dr. Erickson. Does Promise Keepers still maintain that the Vineyard beliefs or involvement in Promise Keepers does not influence Promise Keepers theology, doctrine or direction? Based on Bill McCartneyís statement.

SC: If you attempt to extrapolate lines of influence for lines of predominate influence for lines of undue influence then you may miss the reality of the relationships involved. Okay? Now let me make it real practical. Bill has chosen to submit his spiritual discernment to his Pastor, James Ryle, okay. Bill is Chief Executive Officer of Promise Keepers. James Ryle has one vote on the Board of Directors. By and large, the Vineyard is given way too much credit for everything, or blame, for what takes place on the Promise Keepers Board of Directors. The Vineyard has an association of churches, okay, that would be our response.

* James Ryle has been a frequent speaker to PK events, has been a PK Board member and has written various resources for the benefit of PK or men committed to PK.

Q: Can you expound just a little bit on his statement though. "He (James Ryle) defines the truth for me (Bill McCartney),"-- but, he also, it is believed that he, Bill McCartney, I mean up here, he is still called "Coach" and his influence over people and over the whole thing is very evident. So, therefore, what he believes and what he states is truth (is important) and if he is pulling it (truth and direction) from James Ryle that does have influence, does it not?

SC: Yes, I would say there is influence.

Q: Okay.

Q: A while ago I read something and it said that the Promise Keepers Statement of Faith, particularly point No. 5 regarding salvation and faith was revised in 1997 with the help of, or by, two Catholic bishops so that it was not offensive to Catholics, but could then easily include them and their beliefs on salvation which is keeping with your statements on unity. Care to comment?

SC: Certainly. In fact, I get to answer this question almost every day. You ought to have the old and the new in front of you (Statement of Faith). Hereís what we are looking at here. There is a change in wording and we believe the new version, - new, its over a year old-, has been clarified. Okay and there is no, no easier way and no work faith salvation in our statement of faith on Point No. 5. Okay? In the old version it said there is a key sentence, that alienation could be removed only by accepting through faith alone Godís gift of salvation. The new tenet reads: "Only through faith, trusting in Christ alone for salvation." So, it is actually expanded and clarified.

Q: Okay, let me ask you something. What about the two Catholic Bishops helping to write it?

SC: Thatís not true. I would like to know where that came from.

Q: I believe that was out of their own magazine.

SC: Well, if you could site it for me, I would really like to see it.

Q: I sure will and Iíll get it to you then.

NOTE: I made an error when I said the "2 Catholic Bishops". The next day I faxed Steve Chavis the following information---" I believe it was Catholic theologians who were asked to review the "Statement" by John Sengenberger (Franciscan University). He dealt with Dale Schlafer and Glenn Wagner (Promise Keepers) about Catholic concerns, which were apparently presented to Wagner last summer. The article Ėby Mike Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor, July 20, 1997. If you have any comments, please let me know."

Steve Chavis never responded.

SC: Thank you. By the way, there is input from lots of corners, but this wording came from Promise Keepers staff and Board only and there are noÖ.

Q: But you have Catholics on your staff and Board so, thatís not saying that it isnít, that it wasnít made to be non-offensive to Catholics. Of course, if you want unity you have to make it non-offensive, do you not?

SC: We want clarity. Let me go on to say we are really pressing hard on this issue because the essential questionÖ.

Q: Do you mean the issue of unity or this point?

SC: The issue of the Statement of Faith in its entirety and Point No. 5. While I think splitting hairs on Point No. 5 is almost foolish. Exegete the word Ďonlyí and the word Ďaloneí and you will find the reference to sole or single. I donít see any way around a faith based confession of Christ as a means of salvation. Okay, letís be sincere. Letís quit playing games about faith alone or only through faith trusting Christ alone. We have clarified itóitís better now.

Q: Okay, was it a problem beforeó is that why you are taking heat for it, because it was not clear enough or that it excluded or seemed exclusionary?

SC: No- no exclusion or inclusion was never the issue with any of the points of the Statement of Faith. It was a pursuit of clarityóit was less than perfectly clear.

Q: Okay, Ö but I am intrigued, very intrigued because this has affected us personally.

SC: I hope positively.

Q: Actually, it has been interesting. Just saying that I am doing a report on it, I have taken heat because people donít want any questions asked. And I find that fascinating. Why would just me talking, saying that I am doing a report on Promise Keepers make people mad at me? You tell meóit shouldnít be. If this is on the up-and-up, and you would be the first to say that it is, why would people that support it be offended or worried that I might uncover something? To me, that is absolutely ludicrous.

*Note--the ones most offended and who have become hostile or unapproachable generally make claims that they are Christians. My situation is not unique in the reaction people exhibit towards questioning this organization or involvement in it. People I had a working relationship with, discontinued our association abruptly when the issue of Promise Keepers was discussed and I presented critiques or questions. If I had said I was in full support, that would have been acceptable.

SC: As we have learned in Promise Keepers as an organization and we personally learned this over time, the gospel is open for everybody. We have to open our books; we have to answer every question. This project here is not the most exhaustive, but you are getting there. We have been investigated by a few different media organizations and your work, so far, is in the top ten both in time we have invested, and time you have put into it. So bring it on, letís press into it and hopefully weíll have a chance to get our side in and the readers will decide for themselves.

Q: Well, what I find, I want to ask the questions directly because if you go by hearsay, if you go by what other people are saying, well you get people saying, "Well, where did you get that from?" Well, I can say I got it from you guys... I want everything verified and, if not, then I guess the question will be left open.

SC: The last thing I wanted to say on this question. You got the brochure, "Biblical Unity and Biblical Truth"

Q: Yes and it was the 1997 version. I received two copies. However, I did get through my meandering -I obtained an old ambassadorís Statement of Faith, which was slightly different.

SC: Well, the issue really isnít whether you call yourself a Mennonite or Presbyterian or a Baptist or Catholic, what do you believe? The question is, what do you believe? And so, this has been a major paradigm shift for many, many in the community of faith because we easily attract labels, but we rarely understand what we believe.

Q: Well, most Christians are biblically illiterate anyway.

SC: But, thatís another study.

Q: Thatís true.

Q: Bill McCartney has stated that although Promise Keepers (I believe it was on Larry King again) is not political, your goal is to have rallies in every capital in the nationóIím assuming thatís in the U.S.

SC: Roll call is January 1, 2000.

Q: If it is not political in intent, why the public show?

SC: (Laughs)

Q: Do you like that question?

SC: Sure, I probably answer that every other day. The same question was asked about holding a prayer meeting in Washington, DC. We are not shy about our faith and the State Capitals are often central and certainly capable of accommodating large bodies of people. So, there is our constitutional freedom to assemble peacefully and there is no evidence of a political agenda. We reject every choice, political opportunity, we continue to talk ministry, serving the local church, plugging men into their church life and activity and, as you know, churches have different political viewpoints. We simply are not interested in political power or influence. Weíve missed too many good political opportunities to beÖit's like someone said, "How is it you have held 22 stadium meetings around the U.S. in 1996, a political election year and forgot to tell over 1.1 million men how to vote.

*Note-- the scripture that came to mind while I was asking this question and while Steve responded was this:

Matthew 6: 1-7

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Q: Did you tell them to vote?

SC: You know, I donít think we told them to voteówe may have.

Q: Thatís one of the biggest things that should be encouraged of people of faith.

SC: As an African American, my right to vote came at a very high price and I take it very seriously.

Q: And people should.

SC: And people should. And either we are stupid about it or we are not interested. And I think it is the latter.

Q: Remember you asked me how I was treated (regarding Promise Keepers). A pastor who fully supports Promise Keepers recently said that he noticed Promise Keepers were unapproachable and (they) viewed those that had not attended Promise Keepers as not being "with it" or "spiritual". What do you say to that?

A Pastor that fully supports Promise Keepers said that he noticed some people that are really involved in Promise Keepers and they are totally unapproachable. Now you cannot talk about spiritual things (with them), but they view anybody that hasnít attended a conference as being, "not with it". What is your response to that?

SC: I would take him at his word and I would be sorry, hurt, and ashamed for any hint of spiritual pride.

Q: I think it is a reality because what I have seen in doing this research, just from a personal perspective, that many of the people that I have spoken with that support Promise Keepers are not people of their word and I think it is a very sad statement. Not people of their word, you canít count on them and Ö

*Another observation is their inability to discuss any of these matters or answer any questions put to them; and there is an absolute avoidance of dealing with this issue from a Biblical perspective.

SC: Well, maybe those are the folks that need it most of all.

Q: Maybe.

SC: I guess Iíll say that.

Q: Maybe.

SC: We published a brochure once and had a photograph of a man at a conference. A woman wrote us and said, "The man in that picture is my ex-husband and he beat me violently for years." We wrote her back and said: (1) We have withdrawn the picture from circulation and regret the pain that it caused you (2) Promise Keepers is exactly the kind of meeting we want him to go to and so, we are absolutely imperfect. And we will prove it again, if we havenít already. Speaking so broadly now, we are not a membership based organization. We serve men in the local church, but that is much of what the sacred assembly was about. We have been spiritually proud. Some guys return to their churches and wear the Promise Keepers wristband like its some badge of approval or spiritual success and we ought to wear the cross as a badge of our desperate need.

Q: Let me ask you something. When you see things like that, where the message in essence, is lost because of these types of attitudes that are being taken. "I belong to Promise Keepers so therefore, I am with it"- like these, that is the main essence of what is coming across. "You guys are losers basically if you are not. (PK)" How can you, in leadership, deal with that? Obviously, it has got to be a problem with more than what we are seeing, with the contacts I have, and with what I am seeing. There is a consistent thing here that this is not real on the spiritual plain (level)-- it certainly is on the ego plain (level)- with some that I have dealt with. So how can you, as leadership, deal with that from a spiritual perspective. Certainly, it canít be a few here and there only coming across with that.

SC: Again, that was a major element of the Sacred Assembly. Let me just look at some of the topics that were covered in the program that spoke to that and we will continue to seek the messageóits a spiritual discipline of brokenness. That message of brokenness is never, and may never be popular, but it is so absolutely critical to Christian growth. We are a proud and stiff-necked people- broadly and that cuts across- I think would apply in the U.S. and Canada. People are people, who donít need God except in a crisis. Men who attend Promise Keepers conferences are no different. In two specific ways we address-- three, four, five specific ways we addressed that attitude at Sacred Assembly. We dealt with the sin, and we consider them sin

  1. Prayerlessness, we donít pray
  2. Disregard for the Bible, we donít read or apply what the Bible says
  3. Pride and jealousy, these are all in the context of sin and we called men to pray, and they went to their knees and prayed
  4. These three are gossip, backbiting and murmuringóthese are all in one category. Now we are talking church life now. That may have been the critical issue for all church people everywhere.

Q: Thatís certainly destructive.

SC: And weíre supposed to love one another.

Lastly-- sectarianism. Those five areas were dealt with in the Sacred Assembly. We will continue to deal with each of those in upcoming meetings and writings. But guilty. What that Pastor said, guilty.

Q: Let me ask you something on sectarianism. The whole view of unityóbringing all denominations together that can basically, as Bill McCartney says "Lift the name of Jesus up" and "Do you have the spirit of Jesus" right?

SC: That is correct.

Q: My brother got involved in the Bíahai, in fact he is very up in the organization. I asked him, based on those statements, if he would be offended to attend Promise Keepers according to those statements. And he wrote me back, "absolutely not" because of  how (B'ahai) view Jesus and they believe He is a deity, but they believe He is just one of many.

So, therefore, when you talk of sectarianism and unity, where are you drawing the line?

SC: See Statement of Faith.

Q: You know, you did an awful lot of those things on my 63 questions. In fact you could just say "repeat, repeat, repeat." Thatís not fair. (or right)

SC: Well, you know. Some, I donít accuse you of this, someone has to complicate what is a very simple issue and that is the reason we wrote it. It would basically; this is how we use the Statement of Faith. It is really our anchor. It is the ground for unity, as the essentials, the core essentials of orthodox Christianity. We can meet with other people, who are different denominationally, sect-wise, than we are and we offer that as a model for the Christian community to begin to relate together. Clearly, some will not agree with that Statement of Faith and wonít be able to fellowship with us as one. Bíahai would not. Latter Day Saints would not.

Q: And yet my brother who has been in it for many years, (would attend), he said is going to send me a book on Christianity and the Bíahai and how they view it, but what he said is more than enough.

SC: Well, perhaps a study should be done asking various groups how they feel about our Statement of Faith and could they fellowship with us.

Q: Oh, I have done some and that is what is really fascinating.

SC: I would be interested to see what they say. Now, because they say, "Yes, letís get together" doesnít mean we are saying the same thing.

Q: No, itís all in the interpretation, isnít it. If your understanding of Christ is different than mine, but we both say that we believe in Christ, then that is no problem, is it, unless we validate what we believe?

SC: Well, and then the question isóhow do we fellowship? How do we get along together? What do we do then? What do we do next? Do we work together in this kind of way, keeping in mind the final judgment is not ours to make.

Q: It was recently reported that Billy Graham, a supporter of Promise Keepers recently stated in an interview, and this is my paraphrase, that he could not say Christ is the only way to God. That he has met many Hindus and so on that were fervent for God and of the major faiths. With Promise Keepers stand on denominational unity, would you agree with world-renowned Billy Graham that Jesus is not the only way to salvation or not the only way to God?

*Note: Billy Graham and Franklin Graham support Promise Keepers and have been speakers at various events. I sent Steve Chavis a copy of the interview that Robert Schuller had with Billy Graham.(May/97) In it Billy Graham stated that ".... And that's what God is doing today, He's calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they've been called by GOD. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven.... I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they've tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived..." Steve never responded to this information. (The entire Billy Graham issue will be covered in another report).

The scriptures that come to mind are:

Acts 4:12

" Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. "

John 14:6

" Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

SC: Hum, I would have to see the quotes and call his Office before I would accept that as being Billy Grahamís words. I have heard Dr. Graham many, many, many times and never heard him say that.

Q: It was just recently, but I am very interested (in your response).

SC: If you can show me the quote I will come back and say, "See Statement of Faith".

Q: Somehow I thought you would. You know youíre very political.

SC: Iím focused

Q: Youíre very safe in your statements.

SC: Iím focused because we do, weíve grown so large and we have found fellowship of believers across the spectrum that, and donít take that lightly, and that everything I say gets attached to all these guys. And theyíre, they are Mennonite, and born-again Catholics, and Pentecostal, and Baptist and, you know? -- weíve got to narrow down on scripture the best we can. You know, they want us to talk about a womanís role in the home, they want, -you know- we talk to men, let women figure it out. They want us to talk about Palestine. They want us to talk about gun control, you know. They want Promise Keepers position on the death of Lady Diana. They want PK position on everything under the sun, they really do, and we just focus.

So, allow me to frustrate you a little.

Q: Oh, Iím not frustrated, Iíve been doing this (interviewing) awhile. By the way, when you said my publication was one of the top tenóis that what you said?

SC: No. Iím talking about your investigation.

Q: My investigation? How do you know itís in the top ten? You havenít seen it.

SC: No, not the results. Iím talking about your investigation.

Q: You mean with my questions?

SC: Yes, your questions. Thereís a few people that work us as hard as you do.

Q: Well, I guess I like to think about things.

SC: So, youíve, youíre working us over. Iím feeling worked over here.

...

SC: Thanks.

Q: Well, I appreciate your time. By the way, one more thing. I understand you have, PK, has published your own set of Bibles, correct?

SC: We have done New Testaments for several conferences. ThreeÖ let me look here. We have three different editions of New Testaments that we published along with some other materials inside, and bound it and use it at our conferences...

SC: I was just going to say that we just published a menís devotional Bible which is a full study Bible with helps, everything, with Zondervan which is a major, major event for us.

Q: Well, apparently in one, now I donít know if it was for Stand in the Gap, or maybe itís all of them. There is something about what you can expect from Revival. Are you familiar with that?

SC: Sure, itís on the last page of the one from Stand in the Gap. It says, "What can I Expect from Revival and Spiritual Awakening".

End Interview

 All Scripture Taken from The Authorized King James Bible

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