[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.]
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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?