Christianity in Crisis – Hank Hanegraaff

11 05 2009

 I tire of books that talk of christianity in peril. Unfortunately with the advent of post modernity these books have come out in force and it saddens me that they are still neccessary. Hanegraaff covers the “Word of Faith” movement otherwise known as the health, wealth and prosperity Gospel.

Having been part of a church that was heavily influenced by this wind of doctrine, it strikes a little close to home. However having been away from those churches for so long gives this book a greater impact.
I was puzzled by some of the downright heretical teachings espoused by those in this “movement”. In fact it some caused me to laugh out loud.
I’ll give you a few “soundbites” from some of these leaders so you know what I’m talking about. Creflo dollar believes that if dogs birth to dogs, and humans to humans, then God must give birth to little gods. Kenneth Copeland believes that  Jesus cannot do anything unless we let him do it by speaking it first. In fact he claims to have had a vision and conversation with Jesus who told him the four easy steps to getting anything you want. He was told it was useless to pray to Him [Jesus] because people had the power. Most of the word of faith pracitioners believe that God has faith, and it’s the kind of faith we need to have. Creflo dollar said if you could cut God open all you would see is faith. Sadly, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Just quoting some of these people made me laugh again. But I think to the theologically untrained these could well prove to be a snare. The book was an eye opener from this perspective.

He  does a good job at presenting their doctrines and statements as they are, and without sweeping statements. He is always thorough and irenic in his presentation. Yet the book could have been shortened quite a bit. Did we really need all those accronyms and why did he have to repeat the same soundbites so often? He could have been succinct. Had he shortened his book I’m sure he would have appealed to a wider audience and perhaps even to those in the movement. There is a fine line between being well researched, and communicating for your audience.  Hannegraaff nails it at times, but the book is long and can be tedious too.

Hannegraaff does not leave the reader without a solution. He brings believers back to the basics of the Gospel, in line with what the Bible teaches and historic Christianity. People emerging from these churches will do well to study this section.

In the 21st century when self help and secular moralism are constantly invading the church and watering down the Gospel, the level headed wisdom of Hannegraaffs book will stand anyone who has been affected by this theology in good stead. Again it saddens me that such a book is actually neccessary. Perhaps if more Christians were biblically literate this kind of teaching would have a hard time taking root?




3 responses

11 05 2009

I’ve seen far too much of that theology permeating the church as well.
A lost of times it just seems like people are baptizing materialism and greed and calling it Christianity.
Ironic that the followers of someone who was pretty much reliant on the hospitality of others, was betrayed by his friends, tortured to death by the empire of his day and the leadership of his own nation, and who told his followers to expect no better if they were faithful to him, now expect that our faith ought to bring a big house and a new car and private school for little Tommy.

11 05 2009

*lot of times

11 05 2009

Yeah these teachings seem to prey on the weak and desperate Christians and not just the intellectually weak. Hannegraaff tells the story of biblical scholar who’s child had autism, and they took him to a meeting to receive a healing. However he was denied entrance to the stage by security guards. Apparently only people who had been healed already could receive prayer.

Most of those meetings start with 2 hours of music that is incredible repeditive. They don’t sing more than a couple songs either. It scares me how much these movements mirror cults.

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