Promise Keepers, OBE and Values Clarification


Christians are becoming aware of the dangers of Outcome Based Education (OBE). Nevertheless many of these same parents allow psychologically-based, values level discussions in Sunday school and Bible study. OBE curriculum methods are safely ensconced in the very churches that teach against OBE in the public schools. And psychologically-based values level discussion questions are central to the four-year-old men’s movement called Promise Keepers.

Brenda Fischer was concerned when she saw the OBE methods being used in Sunday Schools and Bible studies. She says in her Christian News article "How Do You ‘Feel’ About the Bible?":

Feeling-centered Bible study uses the same learning techniques as Outcome Based Education (OBE). . . . It is a method of teaching that uses opinions and feelings to manipulate social change or "required outcomes." . . . A feeling-centered Bible study does the same thing. Rather than learning what the Word of God says (the facts), participants focus on how they feel about particular passages of the Bible (their feelings). And just as in OBE, these Bible study programs generally promote ideology or "outcomes" that may or may not reflect Biblical truth.

This kind of study encourages people to look inside themselves for answers.

Values level teaching was specifically designed to move society away from making life decisions based on fact (or God’s Word) and on to making decisions based on feelings (or self). This method of teaching is accomplished by changing the way discussion questions are worded. . . . When this method is employed in Bible study, the Word of God is only used as a tool or a starting point for delving into the feelings of the class. Even though a Scripture passage is read in class the foundation of the study is not the Scripture, but the student. The solid Word of God is effectively lost once the discussion gets off what the Bible says and onto how you feel about what the Bible says. (Emphasis in original.)

Here are some of the psychologically-based discussion questions from Hicks’s study guide to The Masculine Journey:

Many men get trapped in the "performance syndrome," which values a man for what he can produce. By contrast, Christianity places a high value on men for no other reason than just being. What gives you your greatest sense of worth and dignity? Be honest. (p. 22)

What word picture describes the way you feel when you are convinced you have great worth and dignity? Draw or describe that picture. (p. 23)

Using this story [of Solomon] as a mirror for your own life, what do you see? At what points do you see your noble nature reflected? Where do you see the savage? (p. 25)

[In reference to the story of Samson] In what ways have the women in your life used the "if you really loved me" line? What crazy thing were you once willing to do in the name of love? (p. 36)

The violent-bloody realism of battle is found in the life of David, the gibbor who decapitated Goliath (1 Samuel 17:51), but also loved God, wrote poetry, played stringed instruments, danced, and wept. Does this image of a warrior surprise you? Men are taught not to show fear or tears. Do you? (p. 45)

All the classic elements of wounded male behavior—retreat, licking wounds, self-pity, depression, giving up the cause—are evident in 1 Kings 19:3-10. What examples of each can you find? When have you felt or acted likewise? (p. 66)

These are just a brief sampling of values level and psychologically loaded questions from Hicks’s study guide.

Quite often people confuse such questions with biblical application questions. Fischer describes the difference:

A values level question asks how I feel about a Scripture or an issue relating to Scripture. Biblical application has its basis in fact. Values level has its basis in feelings. (Emphasis in original.)

Pastors and church workers, as well as all Christians, need to start evaluating Sunday School curriculum and group Bible study materials to see if what they are using is truly biblical or if psychoheresy has subtly slipped in, as with Promise Keepers.

Brenda Fischer’s Quick Methods to Test Curriculum

1. Look at the questions. Are there a great deal of values level questions? Many studies will have a few fact questions, but quickly lead into a discussion of feelings. Also, are some questions worded in such a way that they seem to be promoting ideology outside of the intent of the study of Scripture?

2. Watch for new ideas or descriptions of God that seem foreign or unbiblical or anything that just doesn’t sound quite right. This should be a red flag. It may suggest that the study has a motivation that goes beyond the desire to encourage spiritual growth through a knowledge of God’s Word.

3. Don’t be thrown off if you find parts of a study that are bad and other parts that seem fine. If there isn’t a certain amount of traditional teaching most curriculums would be rejected immediately. It is actually the more subtle curriculums that pose the greatest threat because for every questionable point there are typically 2 or 3 very good points. The good actually serves to camouflage the bad. This is the reason that values level teaching has gained a foothold in many conservative churches.

(From PAL V2N4)


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