The Threat of the Gospel

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Promise Keepers' October 4 Stand in the Gap sacred assembly received surprisingly good media coverage—even Sam Donaldson seemed impressed. (See CT's news report beginning on p. 62.) PK was judged by most of the nation as a good thing, for which Bill McCartney and his staff deserve much credit. Still, there were several instances of religious illiteracy and anti-Christian bias in press accounts.

Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes thought the idea of a million men prostrate before God laughable, even to the Almighty. Patricia Ireland, head of the National Organization for Women, seemed to confuse Bill McCartney with Archie Bunker. Many others seemed unable to see or hear the sermons, prayers, and worship and so were convinced Stand in the Gap was part of a secret plot of the Religious Right: "It's politics, stupid."

But for me, the most haunting instance of bias was buried in the middle of Time 's pre-event cover story. The piece tried hard to be neutral. The cover's subtitle asked, "Should they be cheered—or feared?" Inside the questions became more pointed: "Are they men behaving nobly? Or a threat to freedom?" Feared? Threat? I always thought the best antidote to anxieties about PK was for people to read the Seven Promises, which call men to be good Christians, friends, husbands, fathers, churchmen, and citizens. Who could argue with these ideals?

Well, Time for one: "But there is another piece of Scripture, also embedded in Promise No. 7, that provides fuel to feminists and other critics of the Promise Keepers. It is from the Gospel of Matthew: 'Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded ...

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