Commenting on the Hank Hanegraaff controversy a few days ago, I wrote the following:
Part of the effort [of the Catholic and Orthodox church] has been to use seditious propaganda against Christians, including the promotion of the idea that the Evangelical church is replete with heretics and ignoramuses and that Catholicism, primarily, and its offspring religions (Anglicanism, Episcopalism, Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodox, etc.) offer a more robust, sincere and purer version of Christianity.
(It must also be highlighted that many are desiring to participate in purely external religious experiences, complete with rituals and rites, but devoid of any commitment to Christ and his Gospel which false religions like Catholicism and its offshoots offer.)
I don’t desire to sound haughty…but “I told you so”.
Responding to a caller who sounded disturbed by the reports that Hanegraaff had abandoned Biblical Christianity in favor of Eastern Orthodox heterodoxy, Hanegraaff proceeded to reply that the primary reason he joined the Orthodox church is due to an intense experience he had whilst in China a few years ago. (Relevant remarks begin at the 11:04 mark.)
In summation, he claims that although the Chinese he visited didn’t have his “intellectual acumen” and “knowledge”, they had “life”. He also declares that their intense love for Christ made him question his own salvation when he returned to the States because he seemingly lacked their fervor. Furthermore, he claims to have been told by someone in China that while “truth matters, life matters more”. Hence, he migrated to Eastern Orthodox in order to “experience” Christ in the various liturgies and Eucharist.
His statements provide infallible proof that Hanegraaff allowed himself to be deceived into thinking that other supposed branches of Christianity offer a purer form of the faith with their countless emotionally charged but anti-biblical rites, rituals and practices. Yet, there’s more that needs to be examined here.
Consider Hanegraaff’s assertion that while “truth matters, life matters more”. Although the pithy phrase sounds as if it belongs within the long lost letter of 3rd Corinthians (or three Corinthians, if you are Donald Trump), in truth, it is a direct attack on Christ Himself and veracity in general.
When Jesus states that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), it becomes plainly evident that without truth (which Christ is) there is no life. (John 1:4, 3:36) Also, by claiming that “life matters more”, Hanegraaff has consequently degraded truth to that of a secondary position beneath what he calls “life”, which is, in essence, religious emotional experiences. In other words, if one must choose between “life” and truth, “life” (according to Hanegraaff’s definition) is more important. However, this is not what the Bible teaches.
True life and life in abundance can only come through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. (John 4:14, 6:33, 10:10) Additionally, no amount of emotionalism or vain ritualism can bring one closer to God. The only way to draw near to the Lord is by the remission of sins via Christ’s sacrifice and by purifying one’s heart and walk in committing oneself to His will. (James 4:8, Colossians 2:16-23)
The author to the Hebrews sums it up quite nicely:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-24)
Being the “Bible Answer Man” one would have thought that Hank knew all of this before deciding to leap into heretical waters. From this incident there’s an important lesson to glean: what is of utmost importance is to continually and zealously embrace Biblical truth at all costs while disallowing emotionalism, external pageantry and invalid arguments to seduce us away from the truth.
Lastly, I ask the reader to remember the referenced texts above. These will aid the lector when attempting to reach a person who thinks that salvation is to be had via Catholicism or the Eastern Orthodox church.