Christianity In Crisis: The 21st Century By Hank Hanegraaff. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009. 432 pages.
Hank Hanegraaff has updated the 1993 edition of Christianity in Crisis to keep up with the “Word of Faith” movement and its teachers. The author exposes the continued growth and danger of these teachings. The book is divided into seven parts and three appendices. It is well documented with 54 pages of footnotes and 17 pages of bibliography. In his usual style, the author provides several acronyms to help the reader remember key themes.
In this edition, Hanegraaff leaves the core of the first edition in place while tackling a “new breed of prosperity preachers.” (ix) He gracefully explains that what must be done is to “judge the theology of the Faith Movement rather than those being seduced by it.” (8)
After explaining the differences between ‘cult’ and ‘cultic’ as well as ‘charismatic’ and ‘cultic’ he works through the cast of characters. They are the following: E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Rod Parsley, Frederick K. C. Price, John Avanzini, Robert Tilton, Marilyn Hickey, Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, Morris Cerullo, Paul Crouch, Juanita Bynum, Paula White, Todd Bentley.
A few examples of Hanegraaff’s criticisms of what he considers dangerous theology should help the reader understand the content.
- Benny Hinn – frequents the grave sites of Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson to get “anointing” from their bones. (29) “You’re going to have people raised from the dead watching TBN…I see this in the Spirit.” (32)
- Joel Osteen – On why Mary could not touch Jesus after the resurrection, “He still had His Holy blood on Him…He was going to use as a sacrifice for our sins” because a “blood sacrifice” was still needed to pay the price for our sins . (36)
- Joyce Meyer – Jesus was the “first born-again man” who paid the price by suffering in hell so people could be born again. (42) “I am not a sinner.” (43)
- John Hagee – Jesus had a big house, wore a designer rob and was not poor. (45) Christians “live under the financial curse of God” when they don’t tithe. (46)
Those are just a few documented examples of what Hanegraaff exposes in the book. He then moves on to exposing some of the key doctrines of the Word of Faith movement. These include parts two through six which spell the acronym F-L-A-W-S: Faith In Faith, Little Gods, Atonement Atrocities, Wealth and Want, Sickness and Suffering. The reader will better understand these false teachings and how they are corrected in light of the Bible. At times, the reader may feel lost as if in the pages of a novel due to the unbelievable theological claims Hanegraaff exposes.
Part seven is the Back to Basics section. Hanegraaff offers another acronym, A-B-C-D-E, to help the reader remember and stay on track. This section begins with the importance of prayer and Bible study. He offers advice on which tools to use for Bible study. The author then moves to the importance of church, apologetics and a lesson on essentials. The last part caps off the book well to help those who might be lead astray by false Word of Faith teachings.
Hanegraaff has done a great service with this book. It is essentially a handbook of apologetics against the Word of Faith movement. Yet, the information is invaluable and well documented. Though it does not read like one, it would make a great reference book in any Christian’s library.
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