May 29, 2009

Book Review: Christianity in Crisis, by Hank Hanegraaff, Thomas Nelson Publishers

----- All errors are not created equal.

Christians can “differ in good conscience when it comes to secondary issues. They cannot do so, however, when it comes to the primary doctrines…”

Hanegraaff addressed this concern over 20 years ago with Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century and he has updated those concerns in his new book, addressing the similarities between pop sensations such as Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now.

“Having lost the ability to think biblically,” Hanegraaff claims, “postmodern Christians are being systematically transformed from cultural change agents and initiators into cultural conformists and imitators.” I have to agree with him, this is precisely what I see all around me. Many of us don’t think doctrinally, many of us don’t have a grasp of deep theology; many of us don’t have a leg to stand on biblically. Can you identify a doctrinal deviation when you hear it? Do you recognize when Osteen gives us a script rather than scripture, when he twists the text of God’s Word and presents it as God’s Word?

Hanegraaff gives precise examples where Faith Teachers have twisted the text of scripture, all meticulously footnoted. The current Faith Movement presents God as a “pathetic puppet governed by the impersonal force of faith” and that faith is a force and “words are the containers for this force.” The Faith Teachers “strip God of His omnipotence and rob Him of His omniscience.” The author calls for a “shift from perceiving God as a means to an end to the recognition that He is the end.”

I struggled through this book, taking over three months to get through it. The reading is smooth and easy, but the digestion is laborious; the reader must sit and chew quite often. The author is big on acronyms, which helps. He goes into tremendous detail over doctrine, contrasts the spiritual laws of the Christian faith with the spiritual flaws of the Faith movement, reveals scripture misuse and advises the reader how to get back to the basics. What I love is how the author’s concern is more for the disillusioned, discouraged Faith followers, not so much for the Faith teachers themselves, but the many who’ve left the church due to failed Faith formulas. This is not an angry book, but a loving book.

Get a copy of the book, keep it on your nightstand. Peruse a different section each day and think about it. Observe religion in our culture. See what you think, but please, most importantly, think.

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