Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review: Christianity in Crisis

Here is a review for Thomas Nelson Publishing's Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hangegraaff.

Christianity in Crisis? I knew that around the world, including here in the United States, faith is under attack. I knew that the citizens of 'this world' want to fight, demoralize, contradict, and be rid of the Christian influence. Until reading Hank Hangegraaff's Christianity in Crisis, I thought the only internal crisis that faced our churches and faith was the inability to unite rather than divide over small doctrinal issues. Until reading Hangegraaff's book, I thought that the leaders he mentioned (Hagin, Crouch, Hinn, Jakes, etc.) were silly "televangelists" on TBN who didn't have much influence, who were nonsense and were only good at making true Christianity look like Bible thumping maniacs. My eyes were opened to the teachings of these men and women and the things they stand for. Hangegraaff's well documented (nearly every other sentence was cited!) rebuttal of the many teachings of these Word of Faith leaders has opened my eyes and heart to the things I see and hear even in my own christian bookstores, conversations, and church gatherings.

The Word of Faith movement that Hangegraaff is refuting is not clearly separated from many small doctrinal issues that face our churches today. It is a fine line in believing in the healing power of Jesus- and the belief that His healing power should not be mixed with modern day medicine. It is a fine line in believing in God given success and prosperity to further the kingdom of God- and living a wealthy life because it is most like Jesus!

Hangegraaff clearly (in some ways, in abundance) outlines the people involved with this movement and what they believe. I found his cited interpretation of what the creation story would be if the beliefs of the Word of Faith movement were written down most poignant.

While I agree with most of Hangegraaff's findings and rebuttals of this movement/belief system, I found two things to be questionable in his book. The first was his use of citations. While I believe that citing these speaker's works and sermons is most critical in explaining their beliefs, I felt that at some points these words could have been taken out of context from the original work/sermon. I would have to devote much of my free time for months researching each citation. This question led to my concerns over his attack on Joyce Meyer. He used one little quip from one speaking engagement that she did concerning humans and our "little god" status. I believe that Hangegraaff over used this one instance that perhaps may have been more of a rhetorical question or slip of the tongue on Ms. Meyer's part. Without researching her works and listening to her sermons, I felt clumping Ms. Meyer into this movement of Word of Faith was unfair to her and to me as a reader.

Overall, Hangegraaff's book opened my eyes to the crisis looming on the Christian's doorstep. False teachers have been around since the beginning of scripture- we must stand alert and ready to give an answer. We must carefully look at statements and belief systems and hold them against scripture. Hangegraaff uses this final authority well as he refutes the works of this movement. The reading of this book was long for the first half as the cast of characters seemed redundant and overwhelming, but the clearly outline arguments thereafter were well written.

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