Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy

(Including: Response to Promise Keeper’s Support of The Masculine Journey)

by Martin & Deidre Bobgan

Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy | Response to PK's Support | A Response to Robert Hicks


Is it true that Promise Keepers is backing away from an enthusiastic support of Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey? It may appear so at first glance. For an extended period of time, Promise Keepers provided a seven-page letter supporting The Masculine Journey to those who requested it. However shortly after our article "Promise Keepers Still Endorses The Masculine Journey" went to press last March (1996), they replaced the seven-page support letter with a brief statement, which said: "Promise Keepers no longer distributes the book The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks, published in 1993 by NavPress."

After admitting that Promise Keepers distributed (gave) the book to every man that attended the 1993 conference, the rest of that statement simply talked about Promise Keepers rather than about The Masculine Journey. No warning, apology, or repudiation of the book could be seen.

As of June 17, 1996 Promise Keepers has begun to supply yet another position statement regarding The Masculine Journey. The current statement says:

Several passages in The Masculine Journey by Robert Hicks (1993, NavPress) could be understood in more than one way. Some of the content of the book has unfortunately lent itself to a wide range of interpretations and responses involving theological issues which Promise Keepers does not feel called to resolve.

The statement continues to say that they don’t want these unforeseen controversies to detract from the focus of Promise Keepers. After again saying that they no longer distribute the book, they state:

At the same time, we believe Mr. Hicks’s core theology is consistent with orthodox evangelical Christianity, and that The Masculine Journey was a forthright attempt on his part to deal with male issues from a biblical context.

Unfortunately, the organization only seems to be trying to avoid further controversy over the book. There is still no hint of warning, apology, or repudiation.

Any fair reader of Promise Keepers’ present statement on The Masculine Journey would have to conclude that Promise Keepers still supports The Masculine Journey! The fact that leaders of Promise Keepers were involved in the development of the book, identified it as a Promise Keepers book, and gave a copy to every man who attended the 1993 conference reveals the psychological foundations of the movement. Until Promise Keepers makes a definitive statement confessing the error of being involved in the development of the book The Masculine Journey, as well as of promoting and distributing it, they must be held culpable.

We conclude that Promise Keepers’ seven-page letter of support still stands, even though it is no longer sent to those who request it. Thus our response, which begins on page 31, is still valid and appropriate and will be until Promise Keepers repudiates The Masculine Journey.

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Promise Keepers & PsychoHeresy

When we used to hear the expression "PK," we immediately thought of preachers’ kids. But PK has taken on a new meaning. PK is an exploding men’s movement phenomenon—called Promise Keepers.

Bill McCartney, University of Colorado football coach, started Promise Keepers in 1990. In the summer of 1991 the first major Promise Keepers conference drew 4200 men. In 1992 there were 22,000 men. In 1993 over 50,000 crowded into Folsom Stadium in Boulder, Colorado. The popularity of the movement mushroomed so quickly that plans were made to hold conferences in six different locations this summer. The Anaheim conference alone attracted as many men as attended the one conference in 1993.

Promise Keepers conferences are exciting events. On the surface this Christianized version of the men’s movement looks good. But underneath the music, the messages, the camaraderie, and the momentum of 50,000 men in one place stands a foundation fraught with psychoheresy and ecumenism. And while these men make promises to love, worship and obey God and to be pure and faithful to their families, the means to being men of God are man’s ways mixed with God’s ways. There is definitely a murky mixture of psychoheresy in the Promise Keepers’ program.

The Psychological Way of PK

Every man who attended the Promise Keepers 1993 convention in Boulder, Colorado, received a copy of The Masculine Journey: Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood by Robert Hicks. The book and its accompanying study guide both carry the Promise Keepers’ logo, information, and phone numbers. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Hicks’s teachings are representative of Promise Keepers’ doctrines of manhood.

Psychologist John Trent declares that "a whole generation of men like us have gotten lost on the way to finding ourselves, our purpose, and our mission in life." He says he wishes he’d had The Masculine Journey when he was "a young man, grappling with what biblical masculinity really was."1

Trent declares that this book will "help you understand the way the Bible views masculinity."2 But, does it? Or, is it one more example of psychoheresy, another diabolic mixture of psychology and the Bible?

Trent is a psychologist, well-known in Christian circles for his integration of psychology and Christianity. Robert Hicks, author of The Masculine Journey, is both a professor of pastoral theology (a field loaded with psychological models and methods) and President of Life Counseling Services, described as a "professional counseling center for Christian Counseling." Thus, both men, through training and practice, are integrationists.

Nevertheless, the book is touted to be what the Bible teaches about manhood. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary heartily endorses the book with these words: "No matter how long you have studied the Bible, you will find The Masculine Journey an eye-opening key to understanding the Bible’s teaching on what it means to be a man."3

Hicks follows the trend of all psychological theorists in that he considers aspects of his own experience to be universal. He says, "Men don’t like to ask for directions."4 But, lots of men don’t mind asking for directions. Throughout this book Hicks bends the Bible to fit his own personal experience and psychological opinions about the male life cycle.

In her article "Theory as Self-Portrait and the Ideal of Objectivity," Dr. Linda Riebel clearly shows that "theories of human nature reflect the theorist’s personality as he or she externalizes it or projects it onto humanity at large." She says that "the theory of human nature is a self-portrait of the theorist . . . emphasizing what the theorist needs" and that theories of personality and psychotherapy "cannot transcend the individual personality engaged in that act."5

In his book titled Makers of Psychology: The Personal Factor, Dr. Harvey Mindess says that psychological theorists "portray humanity in their own image" and that "each one’s theories and techniques are a means of validating his own identity."6 He says:

The field as a whole, taking direction as it does from the standpoints of its leaders—which, as I will demonstrate, are always personally motivated—may be regarded as a set of distorting mirrors, each one reflecting human nature in a somewhat lopsided way, with no guarantee that all of them put together add up to a rounded portrait.7 (Emphasis his.)

Hicks’s book is not based fully on the Bible, but rather on his own personal experience of what it means to be a man. He forms arbitrary stages, in which to place his own personal experience and subjective psychological notions. By giving biblical labels to these stages and mixing in some biblical truth, he makes it appear that the Bible validates everything he says about manhood.

Initially Hicks rejects a few psychological notions about what it means to be a man and says Jesus is "the model of manhood for which men should strive."8 When he dismisses Jung and others at the beginning of the book with such words as, "So the Jungian definition of manhood doesn’t work for me,"9 he gives the impression that he won’t be using their ideas. But he does use the ideas of Jung and other psychologists. Jungian notions float through the book on the backs of the authors he quotes, and they are incorporated into his own explanations.

One book on which he relies is Daniel Levinson’s The Seasons of a Man’s Life.10 Hicks says the book is true on the basis of his own experience and on the basis of what he considers "excellent research." Levinson investigated the lives of forty men and came up with what Hicks calls "certain predictable eras in the male life cycle."11

Levinson is a psychologist who, together with several colleagues, conducted a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. From 1968 to early 1970 forty men between the ages of 35 and 45 were interviewed.

The orientation of the interviewers was primarily Freudian, but there was also a Jungian who "helped us to assimilate Jung’s ideas without having to reject other viewpoints."12 Psychological interviews always follow the theoretical orientation of the interviewers. Levinson says, "On the psychological side, our thinking about adult development thus grows out of an intellectual tradition formed by Freud, Jung and Erikson. This tradition includes Rank, Adler, Reich and other socially oriented depth psychologists."13

The study yielded descriptive information, but not from any kind of controlled observational data. Rather, it was anecdotal, based solely on subjective interviews. One psychological test was used during the interviews—the Thematic Apperception Test, a projective technique with extremely low validity. The test was not even administered according to strict procedures, but was simply used as a means to stimulate ideas during the interviews.14

Levinson says, "Our essential method was to elicit the life stories of forty men, to construct biographies and to develop generalizations based upon these biographies." In addition, Levinson says that they were "working toward an intuitive understanding of the man and his life."15 He recalls:

We found ourselves full of ideas—stemming mainly from psychoanalytic theory—about the subject’s development in childhood and adolescence. We could make many connections between these early periods and what happened at mid-life.16

In other words, they were giving Freudian and Jungian interpretations to the biographical information they gleaned during the interviews. Thus the study began with Freudian and Jungian presuppositions, was conducted within the framework and control of those notions, and finally was interpreted according to the underlying psychological theories. And that is what Hicks calls "excellent research."

In his book and from his psychoanalytic bias, Levinson describes four stages of development with their transition periods. However, these are arbitrary divisions. Others have postulated various numbers of stages. For instance, Confucius identified 6 stages in the life cycle.17

Hicks follows the predictable pattern of the integrationist. He takes a psychological theory, believes it to be valid under "all truth is God’s truth," and then considers what the Bible might add. He says, "As a biblically trained theologian I asked, ‘Do the Scriptures have anything to contribute in this regard?’" His teaching originates from human opinions and the Bible is bent to fit.

Hicks recalls six Hebrew words he learned in seminary that fit with Levinson’s ideas. Miraculously each word just happens to fit one of Hicks’s contrived stages of manhood.

´adam: A Noble Savage?

Hicks says, "For men, [the word ´adam] says we are creational beings first and foremost. . . . Being creational means we have unique capabilities that are honorable and divine."18 He titles his chapter about this first stage of masculinity: "Creational Male—´Adam: The Noble Savage."19 Where does Scripture ever treat man in his creation as a "noble savage"? That comes out of anthropology of the worst kind—Margaret Mead’s romantic idea that uncivilized people have a natural purity because they have not yet been corrupted by society. It comes from the secular humanistic notion that all people are born good, but that society corrupts them. Mead’s research, which has since been discredited, was heavily biased by her humanistic ideology.

The idea of a "noble savage" appeals to the flesh and is presently politically correct. And, it gives an excuse to let the wild man express himself all the while retaining his "self-esteem."

Hicks defines ´adam as "mankind at the most base level of flesh, blood, and dirt." He then uses that word to present "what it means to be a creational kind of guy." His use of words suggests types as well as stages. Each stage is a "kind" of "guy"—a "creational kind of guy," a "phallic kind of guy," and so forth.

Just as people attempt to biblicize the four temperaments by using Bible characters as representatives of the various types, Hicks uses Bible persons to represent his stages/types. Whom does Hicks choose to represent the "Noble Savage"? King Solomon! But, what biblical evidence even suggests such a primitive designation? None! His choice of King Solomon clearly demonstrates how he straitjackets the Bible to conform to his model of man.

Psychological thought dominates Hicks’s doctrine of man. Along with his counseling colleagues, Hicks uses the phrase "created in the image of God" to support the notion of self-esteem. Hicks declares:

In my fight for self-affirmation, I am revealing the basic fabric of what I am and how I am made. The work of psychologists and self-help writers only affirms this reality. . . . The therapeutic remedies that are designed to recover or develop self-esteem, and the self-help literature, only affirm this intrinsic, deeply rooted but unexplained value.20

In our book Prophets of PsychoHeresy II we show how self-esteem doctrines are rooted in the fall, the flesh, and psychological notions, rather than in Scripture.21

zakar: The Phallic Male?

Hicks contends that "this word [zakar] reflects the phallic male in his distinct sexual aspect."22 He says:

We are sexual beings at our most primary (primal) level. The Bible never pretends or expects us to be otherwise. It meets us and describes us where we are, where we live and have our being. To be male is to be a phallic kind of guy, and as men we should never apologize for it, or allow it to be denigrated by women (or crass men either).23

Hicks uses the Hebrew word zakar, because he wants to emphasize that maleness in identity and sexuality are rooted firmly in Scripture. Indeed, the word zakar does refer to the physical maleness both in humans and in animals. This word is used in reference to circumcision, to census-taking, and to the sacrificing of male animals. Zakar is also used in combination with neqebâ, as in "male and female."

Hicks reduces the biblical definition of manhood to one body part. He says, "The Bible simply defines manhood by the phallus."24 Needless to say, Hicks is attempting to squeeze biblical manhood into his categories.

Using the phallus for a stage of manhood is somewhat questionable. One dictionary definition of phallus refers to both male and female anatomy. The other definition has to do with the image of the male reproductive organ "worshiped as a symbol of generative power, as in the Dionysiac festivals of ancient Greece."25

Thus the phrase "a phallic kind of guy" brings forth images of Greek paganism rather than biblical manhood. And that is exactly the direction Hicks takes his readers. To emphasize the connection between sexuality and spirituality, Hicks refers to various pagan artifacts and practices as well as biblical circumcision. He says, "The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication."

Hicks refers to a debate about whether the first physical circumcision occurred with Abraham (Genesis 17:10,14) or did not actually occur until Zipporah, Moses’ wife, circumcised her son in Exodus 4:25. Hicks continues with the words, "Whatever the origin," as if it doesn’t really matter—as if the Bible is not clear in this regard or as if the Bible is a mixture of myth and poorly recorded history.

Hicks fails to mention that Christianity has nothing to do with the phallus as a symbol of manhood. In fact, Paul even called those who insisted on circumcising new believers as preaching another (not the same) gospel. Why does Hicks want to introduce the phallus into Christianity? He says, "We are called to worship God as phallic kinds of guys, not as some sort of androgynous, neutered nonmales, or the feminized males so popular in many feminist-enlightened churches."26 He simply justifies his emphasis on the phallus by erecting a straw man.

Hicks declares: "I believe until the church sees men for what they are, phallic males with all their inherent spiritual tensions, it will not begin to reach men where they are living."27 In fact, he contends that men’s sexual problems (including "sexual addictions," pornography, and adultery) "reveal how desperate we are to express, in some perverted form, the deep compulsion to worship with our phallus."28 But his analysis of the situation is driven by psychological notions. He fails to give any solid biblical support that every man has a "deep compulsion to worship with [his] phallus."

Hicks does say, "The primary purpose of our sexuality is affirmed only through a relationship with the feminine counterpart in the institution of marriage."29 But then he selects Samson to represent the phallic man. Wouldn’t it have been better to choose a man who controlled his lust and used his God-given anatomy for the glory of God? But Hicks chooses Samson and declares:

Samson is a high testosterone, manly kind of man. He is zakar to the core. But apparently he never grew beyond the phallic stage.30

Hicks reveals his Freudian foundation when he says some men are "fixated at the phallic stage of development."31 Freud taught that people become fixated at certain stages of development when they do not pass through them successfully. Freud’s whole system was based on his so-called psychosexual stages of development.

In Freud’s scheme the phallic stage of development was the most important. Freud taught that during the phallic stage every child between the ages of 3 and 6 represses desires to have sexual relations with the opposite-sex parent and to eliminate the like-sex parent. Freud called this the Oedipus complex. He asserted:

Every new arrival on this planet is faced by the task of mastering the Oedipus complex; anyone who fails to do so falls a victim to neurosis.32

Freud’s theories of sexuality were based on his own perversion. And, in recent years, his Oedipal views have been thoroughly discredited.

Jesus: A Phallic Kind of Guy?

Hicks identifies Jesus as being "very much zakar, phallic." Hicks says:

I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men. But it was never recorded that Jesus had sexual relations with a woman. He may have thought about it as the movie The Last Temptation of Christ portrays, but even in this movie He did not give in to the temptation and remained true to His messianic course.33

What Hicks does not reveal is that the blasphemous book on which that movie was based includes a detailed fantasy, not what the Bible would call mere temptation. The "last temptation" was more than a suggestion. It more resembled "lusting in the heart," which Jesus called sin (Matthew 5:28). Thus Hicks’s suggestion embraces the movie’s blasphemy.

Under "Exploring the Issues with Other Men," the following question is asked in the Study Guide to The Masculine Journey: "What were your male models like as you were growing up, and how did Jesus compare as a man?" One of the suggested points of discussion is: "Both were regular guys, sexually tempted as men are."34

The implication is that Jesus was a "regular guy" and that He was "sexually tempted as men are." Guy is a slang expression, hardly fitting for the Son of God, who is fully God and fully man. In fact, it’s downright disrespectful.

The word regular means "conforming in kind . . . consistent or habitual in action. . . like a regular customer." The use of "regular guy" to describe Jesus means He’s just like all the other guys (consistent or habitual in practice). But, Jesus is not like other guys, because He did not sin. Of course Hicks assures us that Jesus did not sin, but since He did not sin he was never a "regular guy." The very expression "regular guy" means he was just the same in essence and action, not different, and therefore just as sinful.

Christ was indeed tempted in all points (Hebrews 4:15). However, to say he was "sexually tempted as men are" implies that the experience of the temptation was identical—that Jesus had the same inward inclination to lust as men do. Having a lustful thought is sin. Being tempted to have a lustful thought is not sin. Although Jesus faced the extremities of temptation, He did not entertain sinful thoughts. Is there any "regular guy" who has not entertained lustful thoughts when "sexually tempted as a man"? Using the words regular guy in relation to sexual temptation reduces Christ to the lowest common denominator of masculinity. Even Job declared, "I have made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (Job 31:1).

Celebrating Sin

Hicks bemoans the absence of ceremonial initiation rites for adolescent males. He suggests a "way we could make more ceremonial the first rich awareness of our mortality and utter sinfulness." He continues: "I’m sure many would balk at my thought of celebrating the experience of sin." He then says:

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 ever recover.35

Hicks suggests a different approach in dealing with young men who have their "first experience with the police, or their first drunk, or their first experience with sex or drugs." He suggests using such an instance as a "teachable moment and a rite of passage." He proposes that "the true elders could come forward and confess their own adolescent sins and congratulate the next generation for being human."36 He somehow thinks this would help young men understand their sinfulness and learn about forgiveness and restoration.

gibbor: The Hero Archetype?

Hicks says, "The Hebrew word gibbor reflects this male in his warring strength."37 In setting up a warrior stage of manhood, Hicks embraces aspects of Robert Bly and others in the secular men’s movement. He quotes Bly as lamenting: "The warriors inside American men have become weak in recent years."38 Hicks emphasizes the importance of the "warriors inside American men" when he says: "As men it is vitally important for us to embrace the latent or rejected warrior within ourselves."39

He quotes from Patrick Arnold’s book Wildmen, Warriors and Kings: Masculine Spirituality and the Bible:

The warrior is one of the most important archetypes in masculine spirituality and a central male role in virtually every society since Paleolithic times. . . . Over the millennia, the Warrior has become in the collective unconscious the archetype of resistance to evil in its myriad forms.40

Rather than being based upon Scripture, however, Arnold’s book is based on the Jungian collective unconscious, Jungian archetypes, and other aspects of Jungian theory. Arnold, a Jesuit, had what he calls a "mystical" experience in which he "experienced first-hand the male archetype of the Wildman."41 His descriptions of masculine spirituality are those of various male archetypes, which Jung "discovered" in myths, dreams, and occult experiences.

Just as Hicks squeezes men from the Bible into caricatures to fit his stages, Arnold transmogrifies them into Jungian archetypes. He even describes Jesus according to those archetypal categories.

In discussing the Lover archetype, Arnold says:

The story of the love affair between David and Jonathan is a fascinating one, filled with strong tones of homoeroticism and all the passion of adolescent boys with a mutual "crush" on one another. . . . One is reminded here of the passionate love that reportedly existed between Spartan warriors, who bonded together sexually to form fierce fighting units. . . . Jonathan’s erotic love has helped David the Puer [which is the archetype of a boy who doesn’t want to grow up] grow up, break out of his passive narcissistic shell, and begin to develop his inner Lover.42

This is just one example of how Arnold uses the Bible to support his pet psychological theories. Hicks uses the quote from Arnold to support his own emphasis on the warrior archetype as a "primary image of masculinity."43

Thus, Hicks’s integration of psychology and Christianity includes Jung as well as Freud. Jung’s collective unconscious and various archetypes are all part of his occult spirituality. Jung himself had blatantly rejected Christianity and turned to idolatry. Jung replaced God with a myriad of mythological archetypes. He delved deeply into the occult, practiced necromancy, and had daily contact with disembodied spirits, which he called archetypes. In fact, much of what he wrote was inspired by such entities. Jung had his own familiar spirit whom he called Philemon. At first he thought Philemon was part of his own psyche. Later on, however, he found that Philemon was more than an expression of his own inner self.44

Hicks also refers authoritatively to another men’s movement author. He says:

Therapist Robert Moore has observed that behind every creative artist, competent author, or successful student, there is an active warrior at work who recognizes transcendent values and relativizes temporary needs or immediate demands.45

Moore, a psychoanalyst who teaches at the C. G. Jung Institute in Chicago, is one of the authors of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.46 Besides explaining manhood on the basis of Jungian archetypes, Moore and his coauthor are concerned about the abandonment of "ritual processes for initiating boys into manhood." They say that in older societies there were "carefully constructed rituals for helping the boys of the tribe make the transition to manhood." They point to the Protestant Reformation as discrediting such ritual processes.47 In reference to the warrior, they say:

Like all repressed archetypes, it goes underground, eventually to resurface in the form of emotional and physical violence, like a volcano that has lain dormant for centuries with the pressure gradually building up in the magma chamber.48

Such a statement can only come from a Freudian-Jungian perspective, with the debunked Freudian hydraulic theory of repression, pressure, and explosion, and with the Jungian archetypes, which are extremely popular in the men’s movement.

Hicks, himself, has much to say about this warrior archetype. However, some of Hicks’s statements about the warrior are confused and contradictory. In one place he says, "The warrior never serves himself."49 Yet elsewhere he says, "To be a male warrior is to be characterized by strength, competing to be superior. . . using one’s energy to be prominent, or vying to be important or to gain significance."50 That sounds self-serving and very worldly. So does this statement by Hicks: "The pride of the warrior is hard to explain. . . . It is all there, the honor, the tribute, the significance, the pride of winning, of just being a part of an elite group."51 Does that sound at all like the humility of Paul? It sounds more like his preChristian life that he later called dung!

enosh: The Wounded Male?

Hicks says that the Hebrew word enosh "describes man in his weakness, in his frailty, and in his woundedness . . . the wounded warrior . . . the wounded male.52 (Emphases and ellipses in original.) We know that the wounded male is a very popular image in the men’s movement and in popular psychology. However, Hicks is stretching the meaning of the Hebrew word enosh to fit his model.

Enosh refers to mankind in general, not in specificity, not even exclusively in maleness. The word can as easily be translated "person." While enosh does encompass the idea of weakness and frailty, it does so to emphasize the vast difference between humanity and deity. Enosh expresses the human condition of mortality and insignificance in comparison to Almighty God.

Thus Hicks takes a word from Scripture and gives it his own meaning loaded with psychological notions. His word usage is reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that’s all."

By making the word enosh say what he wants it to say, Hicks forces Scripture into his notion of wounded male and proceeds with his tales of woundedness.

He further reveals the psychological nature of his stages of development when he says, "For Carl Jung, this wounding is critical to the development of a deeper masculinity."53 He also quotes the following from psychologist Sam Keen’s popular men’s movement book Fire in the Belly.

From the beginnings of recorded human history to the present day the most important tacit instruction boys receive about manhood is: Masculinity requires a wounding of the body, a sacrifice of the natural endowment of sensuality and sexuality.54

Hicks confuses sins and wounds. He recalls men at conferences and retreats telling him about their "chemical dependencies," "guilt and anxiety about being gay or about being straight and addicted to sex or pornography." Hicks says:

My reply to them is, "Your wound is honorable, your wound is a normal part of male development. . . . Now we need to figure out what it means and how to move toward healing in order to keep you on the masculine journey. We need to help you find a way out of your inappropriate response to some abnormal event or circumstance in your past."55

That’s a psychological gospel, not the good news that Christ died for their sins. When sin is called a "wound" then the cure administered is psychology rather than Christ’s death or God’s forgiveness. When sin is called an "inappropriate response to some abnormal event or circumstance in your past," psychology will supply the therapy, but the man will be left in his sin.

Hicks’s dedication to psychological explanations and jargon can also be seen in his remarks about Jacob and David. He says, "Jacob illustrates a young man having been severely wounded by a dysfunctional family system."56 It is quite typical of psychologizers of the faith to reduce people to psychological labels and thereby attempt to use biblical stories to give credence to their psychological notions.

The psychological label he slaps on David is "manic-depressive." He says, "I call the psalms of David the musings of a manic-depressive."57 Worse than attempting to make David conform to a diagnostic label, Hicks reduces many of the Psalms (and thereby a good portion of the Word of God) to the "musings" of a disordered mind. Freud and Jung couldn’t be happier with this degradation of Scripture. And this is the kind of thinking that underlies the "glorious" men’s (not God’s) movement.

When a person embraces the psychology of the world he inevitably preaches the message of the world. Hicks says:

For men to survive their wounding, I believe they need to feel safety among men who have also suffered pain. The pains we experience as men are our bar mitzvahs, our tribal bondings, our marks of manhood.58

How is that statement any different from the notions of Robert Bly, Sam Keen, or the rest of the leaders of the men’s movement? With that sort of thinking, the Promise Keepers might as well add the drumming too.

’ish : Maturity from "becoming his own man"?

Hicks says that ’ish "reflects man as the ruler of his own soul, being independent of outside considera-tions."59 Moreover, he declares:

A man cannot become the ruler of his own soul and genuine in his relationships until he has been through some wounding. It is only the wounded male who can begin to rule with more wisdom and not be attracted to every voice asking him to do something.60

Hicks says that ’ish is generally translated "man, mankind, or husband."61 He says that this word thus refers to the "mature man." However, the word ’ish is not limited to this meaning. The word is used to refer to an individual person rather than general mankind. It is usually used to identify an individual male, but ’ish can mean "person" (male or female). It is also used to refer to a man in his role as husband.

For Hicks, the mature man is one who has "stopped trying to be the man others want him to be." This is an important step from a Freudian/Jungian view of man. Hicks thus presents a Freudian-based explanation about how parents prevent their children from becoming their own persons62 and then discusses the process of differentiation and individualization in a manner similar to Jung’s theories of individuation. Jung says:

I use the term "individuation" to denote the process by which a person becomes a psychological "individual," that is, a separate, indivisible unity or "whole."63

Hicks borrows from both Freud and Jung and says:

For a boy to become a man he must first break free from his mother and find his father. Having done this, he must then break free from his father in order to find himself. After finding himself he can then find and unite in marriage with a woman. However, the journey for most men more likely involves never breaking free of their mother and then still hoping to find themselves in a wife.64

For the man to become further differentiated, he must go through a process Levinson calls "detribalization." Hicks says he loves Levinson’s term and declares: "We are all tribalized by parents, teachers, pastors, churches, systems of thought, and friends."65 The goal, of course, is "becoming his own man," which Hicks calls "a prerequisite for maturity."66

When along the way does a man become God’s man? That would have to be added on somehow, because it is not in Jung’s system. Nor is it in Freud’s. Hicks seems to think that Elijah did not even become a mature man— ’ish —until after his victory at Mt. Carmel and his "woundedness" in Beersheba and his trek to Mt. Horeb in Sinai. Hicks says, "During this time of woundedness God begins to deal with Elijah and turn him toward becoming a mature prophet and an ’ish kind of man."67

Hicks continues to interpret Elijah according to an ungodly psychological system. He says of Elijah after his encounter with God at Mt. Horeb:

He is a mature man, a man now capable of ruling his own soul because he has been wounded and has recovered through hearing the word of God in a refreshingly different way. A man thus reborn and resurrected is then ready to be the mentor and sage to a younger man.68

Now that he is "ruling his own soul," he can be a mentor according to Jungian theory. But was he "ruling his own soul" or was God ruling Elijah’s soul?

zaken: Age, Sage, or Mentor?

Zaken is the Hebrew word that denotes old age. Hicks says that "we need to see the goal of manhood as becoming a wise, experienced elder of our generation."69 While Hicks uses biblical examples, one gets the feeling that a man could pursue that goal all on his own, without faith in the God of the Bible. That is evident in his choice to quote Levinson as saying:

Some of the greatest intellectual and artistic works have been produced by men in their sixties, seventies, and even eighties. Examples abound: Picasso, Yeats, Verdi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung. . . .70

While Hicks makes some valid biblical points about honoring those of advanced age and about older adults continuing to contribute to society, he primarily uses this section to promote mentoring. In fact he says that during the zaken stage "the greatest contribution lies in the mentoring experience."71

This fits in perfectly with the Promise Keepers’ promotion of mentoring. The PK mentoring has psychological foundations. It is not one person helping another prepare for a godly calling, as Elijah taught Elisha. Using Elijah and Elisha as examples of mentoring does not support psychological forms of mentoring.

Hicks says:

Wherever I am on the masculine journey, I need a mentor who is at least one stage ahead of me, I need this to provide a model of masculinity at the next stage and the encouragement I need to leave where I am and grow up a little.72

His mentoring process is tied to his contrived "stages of manhood." Thus a "phallic kind of guy" needs a warrior to "channel or translate [his] sexual energy into something more constructive like business or a career." Or if he’s in his warrior stage of development, he needs "a wounded man to come alongside." And so on.73 And, the difficulties of negotiating the journey through the masculine stages, with what Hicks calls separation, initiation, transition, and confusion, make it appear that a mentor is an absolute necessity if one is to avoid being fixated at one of the stages.74

Since Hicks’s book is the official guide for the masculine journey, it is reasonable to assume that Promise Keepers mentoring will utilize Hicks’s stages of manhood, his secular psychology, his deceitful descriptions, and his mixed methods of maneuvering men along.

Man’s Way or God’s Way?

The generality of traits and commonality of life experiences will enable men to see themselves in Hicks’s stages. But just in case someone can’t decide which stage he’s in, Hicks says that men can "live at many points on the map at the same time."75 The way the book is set up, any man should be able to identify with something if he is human. There’s just enough truth to trap the unwary.

Without the aid of psychological interviews or the integration of psychology and the Bible, Shakespeare described seven stages of life in As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii.

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like a furnace, with woful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Shakespeare’s contribution is probably as accurate as any other sources of the wisdom of men, though perhaps not as enticing. But, why should Christians follow the ages and stages of the world? They have new life in Christ. If a man is to be godly, he, like Paul, will know and say:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

He will not just model his life after Christ. Christ will live in him both to will and to do His own good pleasure. The man of God will focus on Christ rather than on his own maleness. Only then will the problems and purpose of manhood be resolved.

The Masculine Journey is filled with the myths and fables of psychology. Paul warns Timothy not to "give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith" (1 Timothy 1:4). He also told him to "refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7). Paul admonished Timothy:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Indeed, that is exactly what is happening today as professing Christians embrace the fables of psychology and the myths of the male archetypes.

Paul presented the way of the Lord, warned about the dangers of following the philosophies of the world (which include this kind of psychology), and declared that Christ is indeed sufficient.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:6-9).

If men are to come together as men, they would do well to follow what the Bible says rather than Freudian fables, Jungian myths, and other self-serving, man-made psychologies. And they would do well to gather together in the place where they are meant to grow—in the local church—not in huge rallies with "mob psychology" or in groups using encounter group techniques and undermining important doctrinal distinctives.



1 John Trent in The Masculine Journey: Understanding the Six Stages of Manhood by Robert Hicks, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1993, p. 9.
2 Ibid., p. 10.
3I bid., back cover.
4I bid., p. 14.
5 Linda Riebel, "Theory as Self-Portrait and the Ideal of Objectivity." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Spring 1982, pp. 91,92.
6 Marvey Mindess. Makers of Psychology: The Personal Factor. New York: Insight Books, 1988, p. 15.
7 Ibid., p. 16.
8 Hicks, op. cit., p. 18.
9 Ibid., p. 17.
10 Daniel Levinson. The Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1978.
11 Hicks, op. cit., p. 19.
12 Levinson, op. cit., p. xi.
13 Ibid., p. 5.
14 Ibid., p. 14.
15 Ibid., p. 16.
16 Ibid., p. 17.
17 Ibid., p. 324.
18 Hicks, op. cit., p. 23.
19  Ibid., p. 31.
20 Ibid., pp. 37-38.
21 See Bobgan, Prophets of PsychoHeresy II. Santa Barbara: EastGate Publishers,1990, Chapters 4-10.
22 Hicks, op. cit., p. 24.
23 Ibid., p. 24.
24 Ibid., p. 49.
25 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd College Ed.
26 Hicks, op. cit., p. 51.
27 Ibid., p. 55.
28 Ibid., p. 56.
29 Ibid., p. 60.
30 Ibid., p. 68.
31 Ibid., p. 24.
32 Sigmund Freud. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. (1905) SE, Vol. vii. London: Hogarth Press, 1953, p. 226.
33 Hicks, op. cit., p. 181.
34 Hicks, The Masculine Journey Study Guide, p. 21.
35 Hicks, op. cit., p. 177.
36 Ibid., p. 177.
37 Ibid., p. 24.
38 Ibid., p. 72.
39 Ibid., p. 85.
40 Arnold quoted by Hicks, op. cit., p. 75.
41 Patrick M. Arnold. Wildmen, Warriors and Kings.New York: Crossroad, 1991, p. 4.
42 Ibid., p. 174.
43 Hicks, op. cit., p. 75.
44 Carl Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Aniela Jaffe, ed; Richard and Clara Winston, trans. New York: Pantheon, 1963, p. 183. (See also pp. 170-199).
45 Hicks, op. cit., p. 77.
46 Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
47 Ibid., p. xvi.
48 Ibid., p. 75.
49 Hicks, op. cit., p. 85.
50 Ibid., p. 77.
51 Ibid., p. 84.
52 Ibid., p. 25.
53 Ibid., p. 100.
54 Sam Keen quoted by Hicks, p. 101.
55 Hicks, op. cit., p. 108.
56 Ibid., p. 117.
57 Ibid., p. 114.
58 Ibid., p. 120.
59 Ibid., p. 26.
60 Ibid., p. 26.
61 Ibid., p. 123.
62 Ibid., pp. 124-131.
63 C. G. Jung. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. R. F. C. Hull, trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.
64 Hicks, op. cit., p. 128
65 Ibid., p. 129.
66 Ibid., p. 132.
67 Ibid., pp. 143-144.
68 Ibid., p. 146.
69 Ibid., p. 154.
70 Ibid., p. 164.
71 Ibid., p. 165.
72 Ibid., p. 179.
73 Ibid., p. 180.
74 Ibid., pp. 174-197.
75 Ibid., p. 28.

Article Topics | Titles | Top | A Response to Robert Hicks

Response to Promise Keepers’ Support of

The Masculine Journey

The Promise Keepers endorsed and distributed Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey to the men who attended their 1993 summer conference and continued to make it available at the 1994 summer conferences. Because some people and ministries have expressed concern about their original distribution and continuing endorsement of The Masculine Journey, Promise Keepers has now issued a statement in support of the book.

The seven-page statement, signed by Pete Richardson, Vice-President, Communication Services, begins by saying: "We desire to facilitate true biblical unity in the body of Christ, not the division that results from unnecessary and dishonoring debate." We agree with Promise Keepers’ stated intent, for "Unity in the Body of Christ," but disagree with their practice. "True biblical unity in the body of Christ" can only be based on truth. Without the basis of biblical truth, large gatherings of men (or women) will only be part of the last days’ apostasy. Although the men involved would claim otherwise, Promise Keepers stands for unity over truth. Their desire for large numbers of men at large numbers of gatherings has resulted in a hodge-podge of both heretical and sound doctrine.

Our two main concerns about Promise Keepers are the promotion of psychoheresy on the part of some of the Promise Keepers’ most popular authors and speakers and a rising tide of ecumenicalism that blurs doctrinal distinctives. The Promise Keepers’ statement regarding the book The Masculine Journey further confirms our concerns about the organization’s commitment to and promotion of psychoheresy.

Promise Keepers asks and answers six questions about Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey. In summary Promise Keepers justifies their original selection and continued support of the book. We repeat, Promise Keepers was and is highly supportive of The Masculine Journey! Their enthusiastic endorsement for the book is just one of many fatal flaws of the movement. We strongly recommend and believe that true believers will abandon this popular movement regardless of what present-day popular speakers are involved.

The first part of this booklet addresses many of the issues raised in the six questions asked and answered in the Promise Keepers’ statement of support for Hicks’s book. However, we have addressed many other concerns about Hicks’s book and the Promise Keepers earlier in this booklet. Because we have already dealt with the issues addressed by the Promise Keepers’ recent statement regarding The Masculine Journey, we will be giving only abbreviated answers here and recommend the reader to the first part of this booklet. Here we will follow Richardson’s sequence of questions and answers.

1. Why did Promise Keepers endorse The Masculine Journey? Promise Keepers says of The Masculine Journey:

What we discovered was a biblically-centered, frank and honest account of a man’s journey with God. We were convinced that it would help men pursue Jesus Christ amidst the challenges of the twentieth century. . . . We endorsed it because we believed that it would be a tool that challenged men to grow in Christ likeness, to become zaken or wise men of God, as Hicks writes.

As we demonstrated earlier, The Masculine Journey is not "a biblically-centered, frank and honest account of a man’s journey with God." We show that Hicks’s psychological orientation is the driving force behind The Masculine Journey. We demonstrate clearly Hicks’s Freudian and Jungian bases, which are evident in the statements he makes and the references from which he quotes.

2. Promise Keepers presents and attempts to answer the following question: "Why did Dr. Hicks choose the six Hebrew words for man to describe the male journey? Isn’t he just superimposing psychological categories on the Bible?"

As we show on pages 4 and 5 of this booklet, there is only a forced correspondence between the writings of either Levinson or Hicks. The Bible is twisted to create an appearance of sameness. Hicks bases his use of the six Hebrew words on Daniel Levinson’s book the Seasons of a Man’s Life. The Promise Keepers’ statement says: "But the stages that Dr. Hicks discusses are qualitatively different from Levinson because they are rooted in the God-inspired vocabulary of the Bible." The statement goes on to say: "Robert Hicks consistently refers to the poor attempts of leaders in the secular men’s movement to find a definition of manhood, leaders like Robert Bly and Sam Keen." We show earlier in this booklet that Hicks is "double-minded" in that he glibly dissociates himself from the secular leaders of the men’s movement and then regurgitates their nonsense.

3. "Is Promise Keepers becoming a ‘psycho spiritual’ movement?"

The very fact that Promise Keepers gave The Masculine Journey to over 50,000 men at its 1993 conference in Boulder, Colorado, and that it continues to endorse and support the book should be evidence enough that the leaven of psychospirituality permeates the movement. Add to that the presence of some of the most popular and blatant psychologizers of Christianity, such as Dobson, Oliver, Smalley, and Trent, and it only amplifies the exclamation that Promise Keepers IS a psychospiritual movement!

In answer to this question, the Promise Keepers’ statement says: "Promise Keepers believes that the psychologist who does not allow the Word of God to govern and direct his/her studies and conclusions is misdirected and deceived." We have demonstrated in this booklet that Hicks "does not allow the Word of God to govern and direct [his] studies and conclusions." In books we have written, we have demonstrated that the other psychologizers featured by the Promise Keepers also do "not allow the Word of God to govern and direct [their] studies and conclusions." To use the Promise Keepers’ own guideline for psychologists, Hicks et al [the psychologizers] are "misdirected and deceived." That is one reason why we recommend against this latter day movement.

One may ask, just because secular psychologies out in the world reek of anti-Christian bias, contradictions, and failures, does it follow that psychology in the church is also contaminated? Unfortunately what has been labeled "Christian psychology" is made up of the very same confusion of contradictory theories and techniques. Well-meaning psychologists who profess Christianity have merely borrowed the theories and techniques from secular psychology. They dispense what they believe to be the perfect blend of psychology and Christianity. Nevertheless, the psychology they use is the same as that used by non-Christian psychologists and psychiatrists. They use the theories and techniques devised by such men as Freud, Jung, Rogers, Janov, Ellis, Adler, Berne, Fromm, Maslow, and others, none of whom embraced Christianity or developed a psychological system from the Word of God.

The Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) is a group of psychologists and psychological counselors who are professing Christians. At one of their meetings the following was said:

We are often asked if we are "Christian psychologists" and find it difficult to answer since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues . . .as yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.

Although Christian psychological counselors claim to have taken only those elements of psychology that fit with Christianity, anything can be made to fit the Bible, no matter how silly or even satanic it is. Each Christian therapist brings his own individual psychology borrowed from the world to the Bible and modifies the Word to make it fit. What they use comes from the bankrupt systems of ungodly and unscientific theories and techniques.

Christians who seek to integrate psychology with Christianity have actually turned to secular, ungodly sources for help. And, because these unbiblical, unsubstantiated theories and techniques have been blended into the dough, they are well hidden in the loaf. Thus many Christians honestly believe that they are using only a purified, Christianized psychology. Instead, we are left with a contaminated loaf, not with the unleavened bread of the Word of God. A. W. Tozer declares:

At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. . . . The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man’s fallen reason is to try the impossible, and if persisted in must result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity.

The Promise Keepers’ statement goes on to say: "Historically, many of the great Protestant and evangelical theologians did not ignore the value of biblically-grounded conclusions regarding the study of the human soul, or psychology." Unfortunately the psychological theories and therapies used and promoted by Christians originated from the over 450 different secular psychological systems of studying and therapizing the human soul, and all such systems are grounded in secular opinion rather than the Bible. The examples Promise Keepers gives in this section are the very reason we never use the words biblical and psychology together. Such psychologies are not biblical; they constitute another religion, that of secular humanism or transpersonal paganism. However, because the word psychology is used, Promise Keepers would have us believe that Oswald Chambers would support the psychospiritual approach that is an integral part of the Promise Keepers movement. And, they imply that John Calvin would go along with the Promise Keepers’ support for the psychologizing of the faith.

Their statement reveals Promise Keepers’ confusion about the use of the word psychology. This is just one of many failings on the part of the Promise Keepers’ leadership that leads them to accept and incorporate a psychospiritual approach. The movement is more driven by emotion than reason. The Promise Keepers fail to see the simple fact that Calvin’s, Chambers’ and others’ "biblically-grounded conclusions regarding the study of the human soul, or psychology" are NOT biblically-grounded but rather biblically derived. They further fail to see that Hicks, Dobson, Smalley, Trent, Oliver et al use and promote the kind of psychology which is NOT biblically derived, but rather is based on psychologically-grounded conclusions, which they bring to the Bible. In each case these psychologizers twist the Bible to fit their particular secular psychological persuasion. Secular psychologies are developed by secular psychologists and then are accepted and used by these professing Christians to the detriment of Scripture. The Bible is thus made subservient to individual secular psychologies.

The panorama of often conflicting and contradictory secular psychological approaches is just emulated by Christian psychologists, who accept these differing, often conflicting and contradictory approaches and then biblicize them.

4. The next questions the Promise Keepers’ statement attempts to address are these:

In places in The Masculine Journey, Dr. Hicks quotes favorably from certain secular psychologists and in other places he clearly disagrees with these same writers. Isn’t he inconsistent? Worse yet, isn’t it an accommodation to liberal thinking and a sell-out to man’s so-called wisdom?

We pointed out earlier that Hicks is inconsistent and that he states briefly that he disagrees with the secular writers and then wholeheartedly dispenses their erroneous conclusions.

The Promise Keepers’ statement argues, "Even within the Scripture itself, the Apostle Paul quotes pagan poets (Acts 17:28) and a Cretan poet (Titus 1:12)." Here are the two verses:

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring (Acts 17:28).

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies (Titus 1:12).

In the verse from Acts we have one sentence that Paul uses from a Greek poet to draw attention to his message. Paul is not introducing a whole system of thought as the psychologizers do. Paul is not centering his sermon around this one sentence and then twisting Scripture to fit it as the psychologizers do. Paul, by the Spirit, uses one short, factual sentence from a Greek poet that fits in to what he is preaching rather than using a whole pagan psychological system and scripturalizing it as the psychologizers do. In verse 23 of the same chapter in Acts, Paul says:

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you (Acts 17:23).

It is a point of contact, a means of being "all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).

In the Titus verse Paul is quoting one of the Cretan prophets. He is merely reporting a fact. Reporting facts is not what the psychologizers do. They use the very psychological wisdom of men that the Bible warns against and then biblicize it.

5. The fifth concern that the Promise Keepers’ statement attempts to address is this: "Isn’t Dr. Hicks too frank and graphic in his portrayal of the "Phallic Man" in Chapter 3? Doesn’t the Bible ask us to be silent on such things?" The Promise Keepers’ response discusses verses in Ephesians 4 and 5 and says: "Paul is encouraging the church of Ephesus to not let these sins be found in their lives. He is not placing a prohibition upon even talking or mentioning such sins, because he, himself does so on numerous occasions." Then the Promise Keepers statement lists verses from the Old Testament and says: "But God, Himself, names these perverted practices in order to provide instruction about how His people should live."

Yes, Scripture does describe a number of sins. And, yes, Paul was not prohibiting describing sins. He was exhorting against sinning. This is exactly the problem with Hicks’s book—sin! As we have shown in our booklet, it is a sinful portrayal of Jesus; it is a sinful portrayal of a Christian man; it is a sinful portrayal of worship, and it is a sinful (heretical) portrayal of Scripture. Promise Keepers inability to see these heretical portrayals is evidence of their extreme ecumenical commitment at the expense of sound doctrine. Support for such heretical teachings is one more evidence of the broad inclusionary practices of the Promise Keepers movement, which not only erases doctrinal distinctives, but embraces and supports error.

6. The sixth and final problem the Promise Keepers’ document attempts to address is this: "Dr. Hicks has been quoted as saying that men should worship Jesus with their phallus. Isn’t this a blasphemous statement? Why would someone associate Jesus with sexuality?"

The Promise Keepers’ response deals with two issues as follows: "First, the nature of worship, and second, the issue of associating Jesus with sexuality." However, there is nothing presented on either of the issues which would support the idea of men worshipping Jesus with their phalluses anymore than worshipping Jesus with any other private body part, for that matter. Nor is there any indication that women are to worship with their clitoris. Both men and women keep themselves sexually clean by obedience, NOT by worshipping with a phallus or a clitoris. Hicks’s citing pagan rites as an encouragement to consider phallic worship is quite different from obedience. While one may say that all one does in obedience to the Lord may be called worship and while circumcision was an act of obedience, there is nothing in the Old or New Testament that calls for phallic worship. Phallic worship is definitely a part of pagan worship. This is an abomination to God! We are to worship God with our entire being, not our private body parts. From the Gospel of John we read: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

The second response by Promise Keepers in this section has to do with Jesus and temptation. As we show in this booklet, Hicks’s description of Jesus related to sexuality and temptation is at minimum downright disrespectful of Him and more likely heretical. No amount of rationalization or justification by the Promise Keepers will rescue Hicks’s description of Jesus from at least serious suspicions of blasphemy.


The Promise Keepers’ massive distribution and continued support of Robert Hicks’s book The Masculine Journey is symptomatic of the psychoheresy and ecumenicalism that infects the movement. The book alone is a testimony as to why Christians should not support or participate in the Promise Keepers movement. The magnitude and extent of the aberrations from orthodoxy warrant a rejection of the entire movement. The Promise Keepers’ recent strong support of Hicks in response to criticisms of this book only accentuates the extent of their error.

Promise Keepers claim that "The Masculine Journey is a valid resource for men to grow in Christ, but it does not encompass all of the values and distinctives of Promise Keepers." Although the Promise Keepers would not want the entire movement to be judged on the basis of The Masculine Journey, their enthusiastic support of the magnitude and extent of the deviations from orthodoxy in the book is reason enough to do so.

(Consolidated from PAL articles in V2N4, V2N5, V2N6).

[For a "Special Report on Promise Keepers" by Al Dager, write to Media Spotlight, P. O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073-0290.]

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