Interview: Head of Promise Keepers on His Book, A Daring Faith in a Cowardly World, and What Christians Should Know About Their Faith
Ken Harrison, Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers, recently spoke with The Stream’s Nancy Flory about his new book, A Daring Faith in a Cowardly World. He explains how men are leaving the church because of what he calls “cheap grace,” and that many Christians will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and regret how they lived their lives because they could’ve received a much greater reward. Ken wants Christians to be daring in their faith and stand up for biblical values and be strong and courageous, even when society hates them and persecutes them. Ken’s book will be released on June 28, 2022. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Nancy: Why did you write the book [A Daring Faith in a Cowardly World]?
Ken: Well, in running Promise Keepers, I’ve seen that men are leaving the church in droves. You ask yourself why and there’s a lot of reasons … people give, but as I really talked to men, ‘Why are you leaving the church? What, what’s the point?,’ what I began to come up with is this idea of cheap grace, that it seemed inherently unjust to them and untrue, that if Jesus died for the sins of everybody, all they had to do was say a [prayer] and then everybody just went to the same heaven and that was it. And therefore life didn’t seem to have any make any difference or matter.
The idea was, ‘Well, if I said the magic prayer, then why should I go through the effort of going to church and tithing and doing all that stuff? What’s the point?’ And I thought, ‘I need to answer that question for them.’
Nancy: Is that something that the Lord just revealed to you? How did you start thinking about the differences in, for example, rewards in Heaven?
Ken: I dedicated the book to Norton Rainey. The Lord led me to him. Norton was a guy that the first time I met him, I couldn’t stand him. He’s this older guy who sat down next to me, threw a King James Bible at me, a tattered King James Bible, underlined, and started grilling me with questions about the Judgment Seat of Christ and works. And whether I was really saved. I thought, ‘Man, this guy is so obnoxious.’ And then after I reflected on the conversation for a few weeks, I thought, ‘You know, that obnoxious guy was totally about the Lord’s business and I’d like to know him better.’
He started to just teach me in-depth about [the] tracts he’d written and just very in-depth stuff about the Judgment Seat of Christ and rewards. We were teaching men’s discipleship groups all over Denver and it really caught on. It was really quite something. And then as Norton’s mental health went down with Alzheimer’s, I thought ‘I need to take this lesson and start teaching.’
Nancy: You wrote that salvation is a free gift, but it costs us everything. What does your faith cost you?
Ken: I gave up a lucrative career and was offered a massive amount of money to get back into business. About six years ago, God was calling me to Waterstone and then subsequently, Promise Keepers and, you know, Satan always is ready to give us the good as long as it’ll keep us from the great. I was offered a hugely lucrative contract to move to Malibu, California, [and] run a massive company. And I said no. God loves to teach us in the waiting and in the silence — make us kind of work through things. And I didn’t know why I was saying no. And then there’s another point at which I had a bunch of guys come to me and want me to run for higher office. They wanted me to run for Senator and told me that they would pay for all my expenses. They’d raise all the money. They were just looking for someone with my background to run for Senator. And I told them ‘I’ll pray about it.’ And even as I said that, I heard the Lord’s voice clearly in my head say, ‘I called you to be a prophet, not a king.’ And so five seconds after I said I’d think about it, I said, ‘I’m sorry. I have to say no, the Lord’s not giving me permission to run.’ So, I now look and I [think], the difference that we can make by giving sound biblical teaching and rescuing men from their mediocrity is so vastly more valuable, not only to the church, but to this country, than it would be to just be one of a hundred senators, even if I’d won.
Nancy: You also [wrote] that being certain of God’s will produces daring faith. How can we be certain of God’s will?
Ken: It says in Isaiah ‘whether you turn to the left or to the right, you’ll hear a voice behind you saying this is the way. Walk in it.’ And that’s a promise to people who have been completely abandoned in him. And I find that when I’m truly close to the Lord, there’s nothing inhibiting. There’s no sin or even preconceived notions, anger, bitterness, anything. His will is so clear, his voice is so clear. And then when it becomes cloudy, I realize [that] God doesn’t move. I move. And so if I’ve lost sight or his voice has become less clear, it means there’s something not right in my life. And so, at least for me, the clarity of his voice is a really good temperature gauge for how I’m doing spiritually.
Nancy: What does losing ourselves in His kingdom look like?
Ken: You know, I got that quote from James [Robison, founder of The Stream]. He’s constantly saying we need to lose ourselves in God’s kingdom purposes. I think that’s another way of saying [that] when we’ve died to our right to ourselves, that God does not want us to give up our will. He wants us to use our will to choose Him. … God said, ‘My relationship to you will be as a father to a son or to a daughter. Now, He could have chosen any relationship He wanted. He could have said master to a slave, which is actually what Jesus said to the disciples earlier on. But he said, ‘If you walk with me, it’ll be like a father [to] a son or a daughter.’ And so therefore that elicits, ‘Well what would I want from my two sons and my daughter?’
Well, I want my son to crawl up in my lap and wrap his arms around me and tell me he loves me. I want him to listen when I talk and I want him to pour out his heart to me. Honestly, I want him to not hold back anything from me. And if he’s done something wrong, I want him to tell me and ask me for my forgiveness and allow me to help him fix it. And I really, really want to know that if he ever saw his brother or his sister in trouble, he would do all to help them to care for them to provide for their needs. That’s what I’d want.
And coincidentally, that’s exactly what God tells us that He wants from us. He doesn’t want us to run around keeping a bunch of rules. He doesn’t want us to do stuff out of obligation. He wants us to do stuff because we love Him. And so if we keep our mind on the relationship He said He wants to have with us, all we have to really do is say, ‘Well, how would I want my son or daughter to behave towards me?’ and then I know how to act towards God.
Nancy: What do you want people to take away from this book?
Ken: I want them to take away two things: that God has a plan for every believer that he’s set out at the foundation of time, and that their life very much matters in accomplishing that plan. I think there are so many believers who are just passively living life and going through life. And I think that they’re going to have deep remorse at the judgment seat of Christ, when God tells them, shows them, what they could have accomplished, had they fully obeyed. And they will realize what a wasted life they lived and they’re gonna desperately wish they could do it all over again. This is our one chance, our one chance in all of eternity where we get to live life completely by faith.
Nancy: Is there something that I haven’t asked you that you think our readers would need to know or benefit from knowing about your book?
Ken: I think that courage comes from humility and a full grasp of the truth. When we’re not positive about what is true, then it’s hard for us to act boldly because we’re not positive that we’re right. And I think that this is what we see today. If we were to look back 10 years ago … it would be horrifying and shocking for us to think that Disney would be angry about a law about telling a five-year-old girl that maybe she’s a boy behind her parents’ back. That would be unfathomable only 10 years ago. In fact, John Stonestreet has a great quote. He says, ‘What was unthinkable 10 years ago is unquestionable today.’ I love that quote.
Why has such perversion of the truth advanced so fast and so quickly? I think it’s because Christians are not prepared with solid truth so that when Satan comes out with these awful evil lies, too many Christians just really don’t know how to respond. They just kind of stand there with their mouth gaping going, ‘I know that’s terrible, but I can’t explain why.’ And it’s because we have such a lack of knowledge of Scripture. And I think if we can call men and women back to God’s Word, back to understanding that what you do in this life very much matters for your entire eternity, I think that we’ll start to get men and women motivated to get back into Scripture, start standing up for truth and start risking a little bit of unpopularity. As I said [in] the book, the Sermon on the Mount is basically like this recipe that it starts off with ‘poor in spirit.’ That’s when you really start on the road to holiness, once you are poor in spirit. And the end of it, once we get all the way to holy, Jesus says blessed are you [when] you’re persecuted and people say all kinds of evil things about you.
So basically, Jesus says, ‘Congratulations. Once you become holy, you’re not going to have any friends and everyone’s going to hate you.’ So I really want to call men and women of God back to action. … But in Hebrews Chapter 11 is the ‘hall of faith.’ And in that hall of faith is the most screwed up group of people ever and God says, ‘Be like them.’ And what did they have in common? They had two things: They were insanely screwed up people who had repented, and none of them ever backed down from a fight. Every one of them were people of action and faith. And we, in America, have really swallowed this lie that to be a good Christian is to be the most temperate or the most prudent. It’s sort of like the more boring you can be, the less zest you have for life, then the better Christian you are. Don’t drink, don’t dance. Don’t really like sex, don’t like food. And actually, if we read Hebrews 11, God says, ‘No, love life. Be passionate, love sex within the right context.’ I mean, look at Jesus. They called him a winebibber and a glutton. He’s like, ‘I love life.’ So, be a person of action. Be repentant when you sin and never stop moving forward to advance the kingdom of heaven. We have to reverse this idea that somehow Christianity is being the most boring person on the planet.
I’d rather have someone who’s upfront in your face, fails sometimes, gets up and keeps going. Boy, that’s that’s what I want to see. And I think that’s what the Lord wants to see. No more passive aggressive, little cowardly people who commit sins in dark closets and hurt people in dark closets because they think somehow as long as nobody sees it, it must not be true. We gotta have people of passion and when they screw up, they do it in front of everybody and go, ‘Gosh, I’m sorry.’ And they pick themselves up and they keep going.