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Promise Keepers & James Ryle

When I started to research into Promise Keepers, its origins and beliefs, I found that Pastor James Ryle played an important role in its founding. He was the pastor to its founder, Bill McCartney, board member, speaker and " helps to provide biblical direction for men through Promise Keepers" (Hippo In The Garden by James Ryle). Because of the impact he had on this organization I researched the beliefs of this man. In several correspondences with him, and reading his material, certain beliefs and ideas were revealed.

The Boulder Valley Vineyard Fellowship, which James Ryle is a pastor of, was part of the Vineyard churches started by a man named John Wimber. He believed that the simplicity of the gospel in itself was insufficient, but signs and wonders were needed win people to Christ. However, he himself was lacking completely in ministering in that way. His charismatic, experiential teachings were to be upheld by every handpicked minister for the Vineyard church, of which James Ryle was one.

Through the teachings of his church, Ryle came to share and publish many of his dreams and visions through books and tapes. In a taped series "Sons of Thunder" one of the most controversial ideas was brought forward with regards to The Beatles. In it he recounts that God told him The Beatles were anointed by God to bring in a worldwide revival.

The following is an excerpt from the transcript of the original taped message "Sons of Thunder". It is as follows:

"The Lord spoke to me and said, "What you saw in The Beatles--the gifting and that sound that they had--it was from me. It did not belong to them, it belonged to me. And it was my purpose to bring forth through music a world-wide revival that would usher in the move of my spirit in bringing men and women to Christ." And I want to tell you those four lads, the fab four, they aborted something. They took what did not belong to them and used it in a way that it was not intended by God to be used. It did bring a revival of music--but it brought it on the other side of the fence...And the Lord spoke to me and He said, "In 1970 I lifted that anointing off of them."

In a personal letter from him regarding his statements about the Beatles, dated January 1996, he opens with:

"Much ado has been made over my remarks I said in a message entitled The Sons of Thunder, preached in 1990 at a Denver Evangelism Conference...In retrospect, I regret having made statements that have become so controversial...The infamous quote: "The Lord spoke to me and said, 'What you saw in The Beatles - the gifting and the sound that they had- was from was My purpose to bring forth through music a world-wide revival that would usher in the move of My Spirit in bringing men and women to Christ... Music comes from God, and every musician in the world today owes God for their talent and creativity. It is in this sense that I said, "The Beatles were anointed by God."

Thoughts to consider:

  • Were The Beatles ever known as Christians, and did they acknowledge their "gifts" as coming from God?
  • If they didn't/don't belong to God, who did they belong to?
  • If someone does not have an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will their testimony concerning their lack of relationship with Christ be a way to draw people to Christ?
  • Since The Beatles were into the occult, Satanism, Eastern Mysticism, drugs including LSD, counter culture and so on, what witness of Christ did they proclaim in order to draw men and women to Christ, until their "anointing" was removed in 1970?
  • If, like Ryle has clarified, The Beatles were not really anointed by God, but instead they just had a musical gift from God, like all other musicians, why would that non-existent anointing have to be removed in 1970?

I received all the correspondences in this article and several others in February of 1997. At the time it was stated by James Ryle and staff that:

"…those that heard the report have not contacted me at any time, nor have sought to verify if I had amended my statements...."

Promise Keepers issued an Official statement due to concerns surrounding Ryles' statement regarding The Beatles. In it they stated:

"In his reference to the Beatles' gift of music, Ryle referred to that gift as an "anointing"; indicating only that the gift was from God. Pastor Ryle regrets that his comment was misunderstood by believers who thought he was endorsing the message and lifestyle of the Beatles..."

"Lest I be mistaken for commending The Beatles let me quickly add that their spiritual, moral, and social failures disqualified them from having any message for us other than, "Don't do what we did." (The New Sound of Music; Pastor James Ryle)-received by myself February/1997.

In a correspondence received from Pastor Ryle at the same time, was a letter that he had written to Paul McCartney of The Beatles, dated September 10,1992. In it he shares some of his dreams regarding Paul, and finds the common ground that Paul also had dreams that helped him write songs.

."Throughout your life you have had many dreams that have been very meaningful to you. Indeed, God has even given you songs in the night.. Because of this I thought it would be in your best interest to share with you a couple of dreams I have concerning you.... In closing I wish to say how much I have admired you. Your music has lifted me many times, and for that I thank you. I am overwhelmed to think that I might be able in some way to give back to you a measure of the joy you have brought to my life. I do believe, Paul, that God is about to bless you greatly in ways that perhaps you have never realized. Who knows, maybe all your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise."

Thoughts to Consider:

Contradictions always mean something--either someone is lying, they have forgotten the facts, or are unable to relate them accurately. If the only message that The Beatles gave was " their spiritual, moral, and social failures disqualified them from having any message for us other than, "Don't do what we did ", then how could Pastor Ryle write those above final words to Paul McCartney? What scriptural basis is it that allows a "Christian" to admire and uphold as good, the sinful life, actions and thoughts of a non-believer?

Isaiah 5:20

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light , and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

1 John 2:4

"He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

1 John 2:15

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Interview with Steve Chavis, National Spokesman for Promise Keepers: 1/11/96 on the radio show, "The Grant Connection"; the Colorado Christian Network on KRKS "The Rock"94.7 in Denver/Boulder and KGFT "The Gift" 100.7 FM in Pueblo/Colorado Springs/

"Steve Chavis: And James Ryle is a local ...But I'd be happy to address a couple of the major questions about Pastor Ryle. One great unfounded rumour is that he taught and teaches the Beatles were sent by God and their music was anointed by God. Interesting rumour but not based on much in the way of fact. The message he taught at that time was about the gift of music and how God gifts man with creativity whether that gift is used for the Lord ...But it comes out as "James Ryle said, "The Beatles were anointed by God." It's not true."

On July 17,1997 I discovered a letter put out on the Internet, dated January 1997. In it James Ryle stated that he had now repented of his remarks regarding The Beatles. I had previously received the packet of information from him and his staff, and was taken aback because the letter had not been included even though the letter was written before the packet was sent. That information had led me believe that there was no other correspondence regarding The Beatles and his intentions discussed above.

This omission of the letter in the packet reminded me of his statement that:

"…those that heard the report have not contacted me at any time, nor have sought to verify if I had amended my statements....".

In the letter he went on to say:

"In deference to the concerns of my fellow Christians, and in agreement with them, I humbly acknowledge my error in making certain remarks that proved to be at best immature, and at worst blasphemous. I deeply regret having inadvertently put a stumbling block in the way of any who seek after Christ, and I ask forgiveness from any whom I have offended.".

He also stated:

" The record will show from 1991 to the present I have done my best to remove any cause for concern over my devotion to Jesus, my adherence to Scripture, and my love for the Church. I regret that some individuals have taken my remarks and used them to call into question the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in general, and Promise Keepers specifically, because of my deep involvement within these two ministries. . My comments concerning The Beatles do not in any way reflect the doctrinal beliefs of either organization. The error is mine alone. I did in fact correct my reckless remarks as early as 1991..."

Note: Steve Chavis and others in Promise Keepers have stated that James Ryle or the Vineyard have little to no influence or involvement in Promise Keepers.

To that end I was determined to get to the bottom of the letter and have the content clarified. I e-mailed the following to James Ryle.

Subject: Re: Remarks that were..immature...blasphemous, per telephone conversation with Cindy Janecke (Assistant to James Ryle)

Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 1997 12:50:42 -0600

Dear Pastor Ryle,

Cindy suggested I pose these thoughts and questions to you. Doing research, I have a tendency to deal with loose ends. Everything has to make sense, or I'm inclined to ask more questions. That's why I am asking you to consider answering all the information.

Cindy can probably verify that I have been doing research for some time and in February and early March, you and she answered some questions which I posed regarding your dreams and prophecies re: the Beatles, etc.. You stated in material sent to me, that "Much ado" had been made over remarks you had made and corrected. You sent the tapes "Sons of Thunder", instead of directly answering some of my questions, which was fine.

At that time I also, from another source, obtained your very original message of the dreams. You also sent me Bill McCartney's stand on what you said, as well as Promise Keepers stand. They said you never said "the Beatles were anointed by God." Steve Chavis in a radio show also stated you never said "the Beatles were anointed by God."

I have listened to the tapes, read transcripts, and you did say they were anointed. In fact, In order for God to remove His anointing, and wanting to give it back now, He obviously had to give an anointing in the first place.

However, that is not why I am writing. I just pulled off the Internet a letter from your desk, stating the following.... "I've also heard the honest criticisms ....who have taken particular offense with my enthusiastic comments concerning the Beatles- specifically my saying that they were "anointed by God". In deference to the concerns of my fellow Christians, and in agreement with them, I humbly acknowledge my error in making certain remarks that proved at best immature, and at worst blasphemous. I deeply regret having inadvertently put a stumbling block in the way of any who seek after Christ....."

This was my letter which was dated January 1997.

1. If I understand what you have said, you admit saying The Beatles were anointed by God, is that correct? .

2. I am wondering why I didn't receive this apology, with all the other information, which stated that you denied you said The Beatles were anointed by God? The implications were that you were merely using them as an example of the gift of music.

3. If your "prophecy was from God, why apologize? I can find no prophecy in scripture where the prophets apologized for being immature, or blasphemous, particularly where they Say "the Lord told me," etc.; though I am probably not as learned as you are on scripture.

4. If your rendition of your dream and statements regarding The Beatles were blasphemous, if that means it did not come from God, where did it come from? Certainly God does not blaspheme Himself nor make mistakes in conveying information.

5. Are you apologizing for saying The Beatles were anointed by God, or for people taking it wrong?

6. If you believe your statements were "immature or blasphemous", and you made an error, does that mean all your dreams are to be viewed in the same way?

7. Does that mean you will no longer be advocating people interpreting dreams and visions or that they should not necessarily be considered as being from God?

If these questions are viewed as being very direct it should not be a problem for you to answer with full honesty, as that is what all of Promise Keepers and your testimony are about. In fact your quote by Hudson T. Armerding is most fitting. The part where he says..."much of the conflict.... Instead, it is because leaders have not been willing to act with meekness."

You have put in writing, as well as Cindy, that no one has ever tried to contact you in regards to this matter, referring to those who have written books or articles about your statements. I particularly note the letter from Cindy to myself, dated March 7, 1997 in its entirety, and appreciate the candor and willingness to respond to honest questions and concerns.

It should be noted that these questions and their responses will most likely be entered into a published report that I have been working on since January regarding, Promise Keepers, it's leaders, and beliefs.

Please understand that I do accept apologies for honest mistakes, and appreciate after seven years you have the courage to do so. I have made many mistakes myself, and appreciate how easily we can error.

Thank you for taking the time to answer, hopefully before your conference in August.



 In response to my letter, I received a 3-page letter dated July 24/1997, from James Ryle. In that letter he did not answer the questions, but accused me of things that did not make sense to me. He then went on to suggest that if any of my findings were published, he would also publish a counter statement to throw doubt on my credibility whenever he could.

I telephoned his office to clarify what was wrong. Eventually I was able to figure out that I was perhaps being confused with Hank Hanagraff's "Christian Research Institute"(CRI). I had always identified myself as being with the "Citizens Research Institute" at that time, and made it clear that Citizens Research Institute had nothing to do with Christian Research Institute. Unknown to myself, Mr. Hanagraff had just released a book exposing cults and had included James Ryle in chapter six, and other places. James Ryle was very displeased.

In trying to correct what I felt to be a misunderstanding of identity, I found the staff very cold and uncooperative by phone. Hoping to be able to work the problem out, I faxed an explanation of the misunderstanding to them with my letterhead, emphasizing the obvious error, I suggested that the Biblical thing to do would be to apologize and answer the questions. I never received answers to my original inquiry from James Ryle, which is an answer in itself. Pastor James Ryle never apologized nor answered the questions.

Some quotes from the July 24/1997 letter from James Ryle, Pastor and Promise Keeper.

"You asked me a number of questions, each of which require a thorough, and careful answer--demanding more time than I am able to give you. I fear my inability in answering your questions due to time constraints, and my hesitance to do so due to serious doubts about CRI, will be misrepresented in your forthcoming report. I do not wish that you should report to your followers that "refuse to answer your questions". This would not be the truth. Yet, this is in fact how I have been treated by those in the "Research" community. I see something dishonest about that kind of wording. Surely, you would agree?

When I originally went to Ryle with questions, I told him and his staff openly that I knew nothing of the Vineyard or James Ryle, but had read good and bad reports concerning him and wanted to find out the truth from the source. At the start I had not determined to write a report, but after the research involved decided much needed to be disclosed.

"...yet you fail to exercise the painstaking disciplines of thorough study, which would make you excellent in your endeavor. It is obvious, by the questions you have asked in your latest letter, that you have not taken the time to read either of my two books--both of which would provide you with a full, biblical, balanced and rational explanation of my views of prophecy, dreams and visions, as well as other matters you touch upon in your letter. As a researcher, you should look there first and foremost to find my mind on these matters..."

Contrary to James Ryles' accusations that I had not read his books, etc., I had waded through Hippo in the Garden, listened to Sons of Thunder tapes twice; including the original unedited version. I read many critiques of James Ryle and some of his own messages. Amongst these messages, one stuck out in my mind. It was his account of being at Ricky Skaggs' church and not knowing how to pray to end the service. Seeing a sword on the altar table, he was inspired to "knight" the whole congregation with the sword. The account continued on to tell of another pastor who heard about this ceremony. The pastor from the other church thought it was an incredible event and that when his congregation wanted so much to be a part of that special blessing they used a music stand to knight each other for lack of a sword. 

Other messages of his were all the dreams connected to The Beatles as well as the coming music revival. What I specifically found interesting is throughout his various publications, at the times when he is going to cross the line into what many would consider a questionable or even blasphemous statement, he says "a little grace here please". I've done my homework.

Quite frankly the interaction on this matter simply concluded to me who or what James Ryle is and is not. He suggested that I would say bad things about him and Promise Keepers because of my research and my report was going against the scriptures. If all my research came directly from Promise Keepers and James Ryle himself, how then could repeating or presenting that information in a report be considered preparing a bad report?

Instead of being forthright and answering the questions, as he should have, he tried to justify not answering them by misusing the Word of God. He tried to turn my legitimate inquiry into what he considered an accusation and onslaught. His reason for not answering being due to time constraints is not legitimate. He received my letter in August 1997, giving him plenty of time to answer the questions. He has not.

Out of respect for my husband's wishes I never responded to his accusations or diatribe against me, after the initial refusal to consider the error in identity. Although I had suggested an apology to be in order, I also indicated I would not expect one. For someone who claims that their "devotion to Jesus, my adherence to Scripture, and my love for the Church." are well documented, should they not be reflecting scriptural attitudes and Christ like behaviour to fellow believers?

Matthew 12:37

" For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

A man of God is to allow himself, his actions and statements to be brought forward to see if they are of God, particularly those in leadership positions.

John 3:20,21

"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought of God."

As far as the questions related to James Ryle, The Beatles, his prophecies, his dreams and visions, these are my thoughts. If a prophet in the Bible belonged to God, they were honest and accurate in every detail. What they said was invariably true. They did not have to admit to making blasphemous statements, nor did they contradict themselves or the Word of God. They upheld it. When questioned, they answered regardless of how "evil" or ungodly they considered the person asking the questions to be, looking on it as an opportunity to witness of God's love and wisdom. They had nothing to hide. Accountability seems to be a virtue being omitted by those who claim to be called by God or claiming to be of God.

Ezekiel 13 is fairly clear on how God views false prophets. Also: 2 Peter 2: 1-4; 2 Corinthians 11: 12-15; Matthew 7:15-20 and many more. Do they need to be applied to this situation?


 All Scripture is Taken From the Authorized King James Bible


Copyright . All articles are the sole property of and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.

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