Book Review - Christianity In Crisis: The 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff
I received the book Christianity In Crisis: The 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff recently, not knowing exactly where he would be going with his material. Turns out that he takes on the whole "Faith Movement" belief system, sometimes referred to as the prosperity doctrine. By researching and documenting the teachings of people like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and others, he reveals a brand of Christianity that is far different than what's been practiced for the last 2000 years. And while it's easy to just flip over the channels where these people teach their brand of faith, it's far more dangerous not to know the background and dangers involved...
Part 1 - Turning Truth Into Mythology: Cult or Cultic?; Charismatic or Cultic?; Cast of Characters; Charting the Course
Part 2 - Faith in Faith: Force of Faith; Formula of Faith; Faith of God; Faith Hall of Fame
Part 3 - Little Gods: Deification of Man; Demotion of God; Deification of Christ; Demotion of Christ
Part 4 - Atonement Atrocities: Re-creation on the Cross; Redemption in Hell; Rebirth in Hell; Reincarnation
Part 5 - Wealth and Want: Cultural Conformity; Cons and Cover-Ups; Covenant-Contract; Context, Context, Context
Part 6 - Sickness and Suffering: Symptoms and Sickness; Satan and Sickness; Sin and Sickness; Sovereignty and Sickness
Part 7 - Back to Basics: A = Amen; B = Bible; C = Church; D = Defense; E = Essentials
Epilogue; Appendix A - Are "God's Anointed" Beyond Criticism?; Appendix B - Apologetics - The Defense of the Faith; Appendix C - The Three Universal Creeds; Scripture Index; Subject Index; Bibliography; Notes
Hanegraaff takes on the prosperity preachers and the "Faith Movement" in all areas here. Using documented sources such as interviews, books, television appearances and more, he strips the veneer off of preachers like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and many others. He goes beyond the praise Jesus and send us money stereotypes to dig into the doctrine and belief systems that these people espouse. And that theology is dangerous. Beyond the "we deserve to be rich and prosperous" message lies more deadly teachings such as God can't do anything until we ask, we're no different than Jesus, and all illness is a sign that you are harboring sin in your life. Single verses are taken out of context to support their activities, while whole other passages are ignored that would correct their errors if only they were considered. And if they don't like the implications of a particular verse, they just rewrite to say something completely different.
In some areas, the book seems to require some heavy slogging, as there is so much detail involved. Also, after a while it's hard to keep the different players straight as they all seem to share much of the same erroneous theology and distasteful practices. But this type of a book needs to be out there, and it needs to pull no punches when it comes to combatting heresy. This should be required reading for anyone involved in the "name it and claim it" movements, or for those wondering if they're out of God's will because of certain hardships they're undergoing. While it might be nice to believe that God's going to give us every material want we have, it's deadly to base your entire view of God on that premise.