Hendrik "Hank" Hanegraaff (born 1950) also known as the Bible Answer Man is an American author, radio talk-show host and advocate of evangelical Christianity. He is an outspoken figure within the Christian countercult movement where he has established a reputation for his criticisms of non-Christian religions, new religious movements or cults and heresies within conservative Christianity. He is also an apologist on doctrinal and cultural issues.
Prior to becoming a leading figure in the Christian countercult movement, Hanegraaff was closely affiliated with the ministry of D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian church in Florida. During his association with Kennedy in the 1980s, he applied memory-based techniques (such as acrostic mnemonics) to summarise strategies, methods and techniques in Christian evangelism. His work bears resemblances to memory dynamics techniques developed in speed-reading courses and in memory training programs used in some executive business courses.
During the late 1980s, Hanegraaff became associated with Walter Martin at the Christian Research Institute (CRI), the conservative Protestant countercult and apologetic ministry which Martin founded in 1960.
After Martin's death from heart failure in June 1989, Hanegraaff became president of CRI. As part of his role as ministry president, Hanegraaff assumed the role from Martin of anchorman on the radio program The Bible Answer Man. Hanegraaff became a conference speaker and itinerant preacher in churches, where he pursued the general ministry charter of CRI. Shortly after the release of Dan Brown's novel, he co-authored The DaVinci Code: Fact or Fiction? with Lutheran apologist Paul Maier. His most recent publication is Has God Spoken?, from Thomas Nelson in 2011.
The content of The Bible Answer Man show includes answering questions about Christian doctrine, biblical interpretation, and denominational particularities, as well as special focuses on particular issues when a notable figure is a guest, such as frequent shows focused on Mormonism when former Mormons appear in studio as guests to speak from their experiences.
Throughout the 1990s, Hanegraaff engaged in dialogue with Joseph Tkach, Jr. and other leaders of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), now known as Grace Communion International (GCI). The WCG was founded in the 1930s by Herbert W. Armstrong, and had long been regarded as a cult by evangelicals, primarily for its denial of the Trinity and other traditional Christian doctrines. Following Armstrong's death in 1986, the group re-evaluated many of its teachings, including the British Israel doctrine and various eschatological predictions. Hanegraaff was one of a handful of evangelical apologists, including Ruth A. Tucker, who assisted in the reforms. The biggest changes to ensure their acceptance among evangelicals were in accepting the doctrine of the Trinity and salvation by grace through faith.
Criticism and legal cases
The Local Churches (TLC) suit
Based on a brief entry in a Christian countercult book, the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, the Local churches (affiliation) sued the authors and publisher for $136 million. During the proceedings, Hanegraaff filed an amicus brief arguing that TLC wasn't a cult, which resulted in "storms of protests" from other cult watchers.
2007 defamation suit
Hanegraaff sued longtime critic William Alnor for alleging that Hanegraaff's fundraising was under investigation for mail fraud. The allegation was based on an incident of misdirected mail which was followed by a fundraising letter saying the error may have caused "perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars" in donations to be lost. The defamation lawsuit was thrown out based on California's anti-SLAPP statute. The court found that although Alnor’s statements regarding a mail fraud investigation were false, Hanegraaff was unlikely to prove "actual malice.”
Christianity in Crisis
In his 1993 book Christianity in Crisis, Hanegraaff charged the Word-Faith movement with heretical teachings, saying that many of the Word-Faith groups were cults, and that those who knowingly accepted the movement's theology were "clearly embracing a different gospel, which is in reality no gospel at all."
Hanegraaff revisited some of the same issues in his 1997 book Counterfeit Revival, in which he rejected the claims of many charismatic teachers such as Rodney Howard Browne concerning what became known as the Toronto Blessing. The Toronto Blessing was associated with the Vineyard church located near the Toronto Airport, and was marked by spontaneous and sustained outbursts of bodily phenomena such as laughter, shaking, bouncing, and "resting in the Spirit." A different set of phenomena and claims subsequently emanated from churches in Brownsville, Pensacola, Florida, and became known as the Brownsville Revival.
One of the book's primary arguments is that many ostensible "manifestations of the Spirit" in charismatic, Pentecostal, and third wave affiliated churches are caused by psychological manipulation of parishioners, and that many of the "signs and wonders" claimed by these churches are fraudulent or result from manipulation, peer pressure, subtle suggestions, altered states of consciousness from repetitive chanting or singing, and expectations of supernatural events. Hanegraaff argues that many of the practices within these movements are not biblically sanctioned or appropriate, but have underlying aspects of scripture which are misinterpreted. He notes these movements rely too much on subjective experiences or feelings.
James A. Beverley, in reviewing Counterfeit Revival in Christianity Today, wrote that while the book "exposes some real excesses and imbalances in the current charismatic renewal movements", it is a "misleading, simplistic, and harmful book, marred by faulty logic, outdated and limited research".
- Hanegraaff, Hank (1993). Christianity in Crisis. Eugene: Harvest House Pub. ISBN 0-89081-976-9.
- Hanegraaff, Hank (1997). Counterfeit Revival (1st ed.). Dallas: Word Publishing Group (Thomas Nelson). 315pp. ISBN 9780849911828.
- The FACE That Demonstrates the Farce of Evolution (Nashville: Word, 1998).
- Millennium Bug Debugged (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1998).
- Resurrection (Nashville: Word, 2000).
- The Prayer of Jesus (Nashville: Word, 2001).
- Hanegraaff, Hank (2001). Counterfeit Revival (2nd ed.). W. Publishing Group (Thomas Nelson). 416pp. ISBN 9780849942945.
- Fatal Flaws (Nashville: Word, 2003).
- Bible Answer Book (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2004).
- The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times . . . and Why It Matters Today (Thomas Nelson, 2007)
- As editor
- (General editor), The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1997).
- Novels with Sigmund Brouwer
- (with Sigmund Brouwer) The Last Disciple (A Novel), (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2004).
- (with Sigmund Brouwer) The Last Sacrifice (A Novel), (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2005).
- (with Sigmund Brouwer) Fuse of Armageddon (A Novel), (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2007)
Hanegraaff was born in the Netherlands and raised in the United States since childhood. He and his wife Kathy have twelve children. They lived in Southern California but are now living in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Christian countercult movement
- List of anti-cult organizations and individuals
- Christian Research Institute
- "Hank Hanegraaff". Christian Research Institute. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Tucker, Ruth A. (July 15, 1996). "From the Fringe to the Fold" 40 (8). Christianity Today (published July 1996). Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Christian Research Institute Sues Longtime Critic: Hanegraaff says defamation must be answered. Christianity Today April 12, 2005
- News Briefs Christianity Today April 17, 2007
- Christian Research Institute v. Alnor (“Alnor I”) California Anti-SLAPP Project
- Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House 1993
- "Toronto Blessing: Is It a Revival?". Christianity Today 39 (6) (published May 1995). May 15, 1995.
- Beverley, James A. (September 1, 1997). "Books: Counterfeit Critique". Christianity Today.
- Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965; revised in several editions published by Bethany House in 1967, 1977, 1985, 1997 and 2003).
- J. Gordon Melton, "The counter-cult monitoring movement in historical perspective," in Challenging Religion: Essays in Honour of Eileen Barker, edited by James A. Beckford & James T. Richardson, (Routledge, London, 2003), pp. 102-113.