Friday, September 1, 2017

A WORLDLY MINISTRY



[If Hank Hanegraaff is still on the air, I don’t care to know. His ministry was thoroughly worldly by 2007 when I sent this letter to his head office. Now that he has converted to unorthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, we know that his ministry, no matter how rich it has become financially, is made of wood, hay, and stubble spiritually. When I wrote this letter a decade ago, he was undergoing a financial crisis. That was his complaint, anyway. In the letter, I addressed his malicious accusations, his ongoing greed, his money-making schemes, his fads, his boasts, his guests, his products, and his general worldliness. I did it because I was concerned about where his ministry was headed. I received no answer.] 

December 2007

CRI
PO BOX 8500
Charlotte, North Carolina
28271
USA

Dear CRI:

Things continue to go backward for you, it seems, financially. But until Hank owns up to the mistakes he has made, and until he reverses the worldly trend he is on, it is likely that the program will continue to slide. Oh sure, Hank will be able to get money in by cleverness, finally; but who wants to succeed by arm-of-man tactics? Will there be any reward ‘for time and for eternity’ for those who achieve their goals in this way? What does Hank need to do? 

(1) He needs to apologize for his anti-Semitic accusations toward those who believe differently than him about end-times prophecy. (I am not a Pre-triber.) 

(2) He needs to quit his money-soliciting inventions, like Listener Appreciation Week. Why? Because the thing is a lie. Listener Appreciation Week is not about you. It is about CRI begging for your money. Is it reasonable to expect the Lord to bless a lie? If Hank’s listeners were the critical thinkers that Hank claims to have made them, they’d see his self-praising, money-grabbing charade for what it is. “Our goal is to express our gratitude,” says the narrator about Listener Appreciation Week. Why, then, for Listener Appreciation Week, does The Bible Answer Man ask people to call in to express their gratitude? Because Listener Appreciation Week is a lying scheme by which to secure money from people who are easy to deceive.

(3) Hank needs to wake up to his worldliness, and then put it away. How does he placate listeners who might be concerned about him promoting the reading of the Bible by Hollywood actors? He states that these actors should lend their God-given talents to this work. Does God really want his holy word spoken to his children by an impenitent, godless class of people who remind us more of citizens of Sodom than of his kingdom? Shall we listen to God’s inspired word through voices owned by men and women whose inflections and tones must forever remind us of the base characters that these actors have portrayed, the sins these actors are associated with, and the immoral lives they have flaunted before the public? Do I want to be reminded, every time I hear the words of Moses, of some lewd fellow, the worldly characters he has played, and the actor’s crude lifestyle? If I listen to this sordid reading of the Scriptures often enough, will I not be in danger of hearing the ring of this despicable Hollywood actor’s voice every time I read the Sacred Text? Hank is so willfully blind to these dangers, or so desperate to get proceeds in, that he hastily sells the production by pitching it in anger and frustration. “We are making this accessible to you!” he growls. Such is his anxiety to generate interest in the abominable thing, that he betrays his own poor judgment by pitching it in the spirit of which the thing itself is possessed! The Holy Word being mouthed by hypocrites and fornicators is an abomination, if anything is. Here is proof: “Excellent speech becometh not a fool” (Proverbs 17.7.) And what does God have to say to the man who puts hypocrites in honor? “As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool” (Proverbs 26.8.) 

(4) Hank needs to stop following after fads, which, ironically, is what he accuses those who read stuff like the Left Behind series of doing (not that I would read something like that.) What is Max McClean’s theatrics but a fad? What is Illumina but a fad? What does the title of Hank’s latest book of fiction suggest but a fad? Hank doesn’t believe in Armageddon. But to sell his book, he doesn’t mind using the word Armageddon in his title. Why? Because he knows that a title with that word in it is just the thing that will appeal to those who follow after fads. 

(5) Hank needs to give no more superlative praises to commonplace items. “This is a must,” or “This is not an option,” he says. As if there isn’t better stuff out there than what he advertises. As if we absolutely need what Hank Hanegraaff says we need. So many of Hank’s own sins are as clear to me as the sun at noonday, yet I have not read one single book that I remember him saying I need! One does not need the material that he sells in order to be enlightened.  

(6) Hank needs to obey Paul’s pastoral letters, and no more set women in places of authority. Here is an example why. He had Gretchen Pasantino on the program. She was on the show promoting some Christian-like participation in Halloween. A witch called in to commend Gretchen for giving people a proper representation of what witchcraft is instead of a caricature. Then Pasantino went on to explain that not only did she practice the golden rule, but the platinum also, the one about esteeming others better than yourself. The Wiccan then took this at face value, exclaiming happily that they could learn from each other, and that each had his or her own way to achieve the same good results, &c. In other words, the witch was saying how glad she was that we were all on the same team, and Gretchen was stuck for a reply. Gretchen sprung her own trap by misinterpreting Scripture. What she calls the platinum rule is a reference to how believers ought to esteem each other, not how believers ought to esteem witches. Hank then had to bail Gretchen out by drawing the witch out to admit her worship of many gods besides Jesus. Then he passed the conversation over to Gretchen so she could redeem her mistake. As articulate as the weaker vessel can sometimes be, she is unfit for spiritual leadership. 

(7) Hank needs to quit looking through the grid of the material he is so frantic to hawk. One man phoned in to ask about when one should quit praying for a thing. But he got no answer because Hank used the question as a ‘springboard’ to advertise his wares. 

(8) He needs to mortify his appeals for money, period. I went on his website the other day to see what it’s like. I saw this segment called, A Letter from Hank. This letter was just another, yes another, as if we needed to hear it—appeal for money! Indeed, there were at least three appeals in there!

This ministry is on a downtrend. Hank’s recent intolerance and accusatory attitude toward Christians of a certain prophetic stripe has caused much of his financial embarrassment. But if Hank’s new pugilism were not more than what the Bible warrants, would we not expect the Lord to uphold him and even increase his finances during the fight? When we stand on an issue worth dividing over (do secondary prophetic details qualify?) then—only then, do we have cause to hope that the good Lord will create new resources to replace the ones that our righteous stand caused to dry up. Here is an example from the life of Spurgeon, a man who knew what hills to be prepared to die on:   

“During another year the Lord has been exceedingly gracious to the various
institutions of which this magazine is the representative and right hand. Our practical protest against error has lost us many a friend; or, rather, has
winnowed away much of the chaff from the heap of our acquaintances.
Naturally, it might have been expected that this would tell upon the funds
of the Orphanage, College, Colportage, Evangelists’ Society, or some
other of our agencies; but our resources are beyond the reach of human
power, seeing we have all along drawn our supplies direct from the
Fountain-head. We have received, not less, but more of pecuniary supplies,
since certain great ones threatened to dry up the springs. They cannot stay
so much as a drop of heaven’s rain from the plant of the Lord’s right hand
planting. For this, with a deep, adoring reverence, we say emphatically,
‘The Lord be magnified.’”

The reason why Hank cannot say the same is because of the sins that I have been careful and gracious to inform his ministry about, not the least of which is his sin of shunning, and railing at, brothers who do not agree with him on secondary points.

Letters just like this one need to be put right on Hank Hanegraaff’s desk. Is it honest to read only letters of praise over the air? Are there no critical letters to choose from?

MINISTERIAL AVARICE



[Ten years ago I predicted that Hank Hanegraaff would suffer a great fall because of his pursuit of money. Now Mr. Hanegraaff is an Eastern Orthodox man. What greater fall can a professing Christian have than to adopt a works based salvation, which is no salvation at all? I wrote the letter to his staff at the branch in Canada.]  

June 2007

CRI Canada
56051 Airways P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 8K5

Dear CRI:

Have you noticed any negative changes in Mr. Hanegraaff’s ministry since about ten years ago? I used to enjoy the program. Now I listen mostly just to keep an eye on him. Inquirers are still being directed away from the cults. Many questions about the Bible are well answered. Sometimes Christians are edified. Sinners are told how to be saved. That’s all good. That’s all so good that Hank Hanegraaff should be admonished to repent of his faults in order that God will continue to bless. I have a long list of concerns. Just a few of these ought to be enough to convince you to voice your own disapproval to the main branch for the ministry’s own good. 

Concern number one: Hank’s blunt appeals for money. I understand that Hank is often distraught over the looming possibility that he might have to diminish his station coverage. But he should get no sympathy for being disrespectful and mean on account of the stress he is under. “I know that must be tough.” Is that a Christian way to ask listeners to dial the phone to give Hank more money? Is that kind of rude petition for funds even tolerated in the infommercial world? Can it even be found among the prosperity televangelists? Should anyone give when asked like that, even if their contribution is ‘for time and for eternity’? Should anyone working for this man be pleased to live off proceeds gained that way? Are you okay with hungry, angry appeals for money? Be careful to make your work follow you into eternity by way of reward. Refusing to reprove your leader works against that. 


Concern number two: Hank’s tricky appeals for money. For instance, consider his ‘listener appreciation week.’ First, he extended it to two weeks instead of one, which made ‘listener appreciation week’ a lie. But it was a lie in another way too. He said that “listener appreciation week is about you.” But it seems that it is more about something else. Listeners are urged to phone in and record their thank yous to CRI. Then these recordings are used as persuading preludes to appeals for money! Self-praise is one of the haughtiest sins among those that are prohibited in Proverbs. But Hank, a man who has memorized all the proverbs, went even further: he asked for praises. Proverbs 27.2: “Let another man praise thee”—that’s okay. Ask your listeners to praise thee—that’s wrong.  And what if one should not only ask for praises, but then go on to trickily use these praises for financial gain? Money gained by tricks, crass tactics, and tacky epithets like ‘listener appreciation week’ is what the Bible calls filthy lucre. And what does filthy lucre suggest but greed? Hank Hanegraaff is becoming haughty and greedy; he is becoming angry and mean. Hank is becoming angry and mean because of haughtiness and greed.

Concern number three: Hank’s rhetorical appeals for money. Conveniently, and quite often, instead of answering the question put to him, Hank goes on about hermeneutics and about ‘debating vigorously without dividing over an issue,’ and by this rhetorical skill leads into another extemporaneous commercial for his hermeneutical Apocalypse Code, as if the contrived commercials were not enough. And what is that but just another appeal for money?

What are the consequences of an unchecked zeal for money and book sales? Here’s one that I remember. A newly converted woman called in about her husband not being converted yet and not being awakened yet to the inadequacies of that eschatological system taught by Mr. Jack van Impe, whose program the husband was following with great interest. Hank immediately jumped all over that call as a springboard to advertise his Apocalypse Code, but said not one word about how this woman ought to be careful not to discourage her husband from watching his beloved program in case the Lord might be using the show to convert the man by. I am not a disciple of Jack van Impe, but once I sort of was—because I was converted through watching repeats of his program. Let’s suppose that Hank advertised his book in this instance, not for money, but only to teach his position. Fine, but his position on a secondary matter like eschatological details should not override and should never exclude the primary matter of someone’s potential salvation!

What are some other consequences of Hank’s behavior? A guest told Hank that he was like the apostle Paul. Men of God of old would have interjected at that point. We should be too humble to accept such overblown compliments, in particular when we are hosting a Bible program. By his own admission, Hank is ‘addicted to golf.’ We have a biblical right to expect Christian radio hosts to have long ‘put away childish things’ (1 Cor. 13.11.) Once we become addicted to a childish thing, we are soon on our way to promoting other childish things, even to advancing a childish thing that is irreverent. Hank is now promoting Max McLain’s theatrical reading of certain Christian classics. Jonathan Edwards read his sermon called, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in a monotone, and many were saved through it, says Hank. But Max reads it theatrically. Will that do any good? Probably not. Max is an actor. That’s what the word ‘hypocrite’ means. You can look it up in your Strong’s. And so Hank is promoting a hypocritical reading of a text that God used to convict and save sinners by. But here is something far worse. Hank promotes the hypocritical reading of Sacred Scripture by this same man!

In light of all this, which is just a portion of the concerns that might be brought up, is it possible that it is not God’s will to increase the scale of Hank Hanegraaff’s broadcast? I didn’t even mention how he promotes commonplace books by calling them ‘blockbusters’ and ‘must-haves,’ &c.; nor how he champions women who are in male ministerial roles; nor even how his new eschatological position (an issue we should be able to ‘debate vigorously without dividing over’) is causing great and unnecessary division among God’s people and in God’s churches. It is plain by Hank’s hotheaded speeches directed at certain Dispensationalists and his accusations against them of heretical and anti-Semitic intent that he has decided to stand or fall on this secondary non-essential doctrine of End Times particulars. What irony!—because if Hank Hanegraaff were to phone in to ‘the Bible answer man’ for advice, he would be told—: “That is not a hill I’d be willing to die on.” 

It should be plain to any discerning Christian that Hank Hanegraaff should be put on the trimming lathe and left there until a good deal of his worldliness gets shaved off, even if that means his program gets trimmed in the process. The alternative, without reform, is that he will suffer a mighty fall through pride. Will you confront him over his faults? Will your reward ‘for time and for eternity’ be negatively affected if you refuse to confront him?