Hank Hanegraaff (a.k.a. "the Bible Answer Man") Received Into the Orthodox Church

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Bert Perry's picture

I know a few families in our homeschooling acquaintance which have left evangelical Christianity for variants of Eastern Orthodoxy, and a bunch of others who leave evangelical churches for churches which, while still basically orthodox (e.g. Missouri Synod Lutheranism), are more liturgical.  We might do well to learn why, and ask ourselves if we've gone to other extremes in our church services which push people away.

Some thoughts on my part.  First, I've been in Catholic masses, and it's simply a beautiful thing well-done.  Heretical, but beautiful.  Part of it we shouldn't emulate--we are not trying to emulate an old Temple sacramental/sacrificial system, after all--but there is a sense of timelessness and transcendent beauty there, as well as a real reverence when someone walks into the church.  Not much idle chit-chat like in our churches.  When you go into a Catholic or Orthodox auditorium, you instinctively tend to look up to see the artwork--it communicates a sense of awe.  Look around at the stained glass windows--preferably with a priest or nun telling you what you're looking at--and it's not just about veneration of the saints.  Rather, it's reminding you of an artistic view of the stories of Scripture--it is, really, the reason Chaucer's fictional pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales often seem to have Biblical knowledge which makes ours look pale and shabby in comparison.

Take out the icons and statues (in some cases yes, idols), and you've got the same tendency to look up--probably a lesser tendency to silence, though.  One thing that I do like about the Anglican churches is the Scripture readings--in my Methodist (Methodist Episcopal--it's sort of Anglican) church growing up, you'd have an Old Testament reading, a new Testament reading, and  a Gospel reading each service.  The sermons can be horrible, but at least you are reminded of what God actually said about the matter from time to time. 

What can we do to get some of this without crossing the Tiber or Bosphorus, or even the Thames or Rhine?  I think we need to remember that the words are, as they say, only 10% of communication, and we get an incredible amount of of the tone, what we see, what we smell, and the like.  What is, or is not, on the walls?  What message is said by the cross?  Does it communicate the reality of the Crucifixion, or is it "just pretty"?

Again, no need to give up the Fundamentals or the Solas, but if we have a tiny hint of what guys like Hanegraaff are thinking, we might be able to reach people in a wonderful new way.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Paul Henebury's picture

I would just say that there are parts of Eastern Orthodoxy which are very appealing.  Their emphasis on the early church and the likes of Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus for example.  Kallistos Ware is a saintly man (and very funny also).  Ditto John Behr.         

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I have listened to Hanegraaff off and on over the years.  Early on, I would say I agreed more than 90% of the time with what I heard.  Over the last couple of years, the percentage has declined, but I thought I was hearing answers to questions not previously considered.  In other words, that I was learning more about him.  It didn't occur to me that Hanegraaff himself was changing.  I was hearing more favorable references to Roman Catholicism, and more emphasis upon the sacraments, along with some comments which seemed to support theistic evolution.

This "conversion" is sad.  Hank has done a lot of good in helping people understand and have confidence in Scripture.  It might be tempting to add that this is one of the dangers when one abandons Biblical Calvinism, but its probably better to leave that one alone.  Smile

G. N. Barkman

David R. Brumbelow's picture

“The Orthodox teach that the sacrament of baptism provides participants with new life. Faith in Christ and repentance from sin are not necessary for this new life. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Orthodox baptize infants. The sacramentalism of the Orthodox competes for the need of a personal faith in Christ as the means of salvation.”

“The Orthodox claim that the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition, especially as recorded in the writings of the Church Fathers, as their authority. The canon of Scripture used by the Orthodox contains the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, plus 10 additional books that are in the Greek Septuagint. The Orthodox contend that since the canon of Scripture was created by the church, the entire body of believers, that the church has the sole authority to interpret the Bible.”

-Bill Gordon and Paul Negru


David R. Brumbelow

Jim's picture


According to Tim Funk of Charlotte Observer, between 100 and 150 radio stations dropped BAM from their daily lineups. “That picture of Hank kneeling before a Greek Orthodox priest – that was hard for many evangelicals to see,” said Mike Carbone, chief operating officer at The Truth Network.  TTN dropped BAM from six of its stations, including those in Charlotte and Raleigh. “Hank is as likable a guy as you’ll find,” said Carbone, “but we were not able to go where he was going.”