Book Review: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century is an extensive update and revision of Hank Hanegraaff’s classic, first published nearly twenty years ago.  In it, he examines and scrutinizes the theology, practice, and teachings of some of the most popular “Word of Faith” (or simply “Faith”) preachers and teachers so prominent in American Evangelicalism today.  As in the initial version of Christianity in Crisis, Hanegraaff contrasts the teachings of the Faith movement with those of the historic, Christian faith to show the great disconnect between the two.  Using the acronym FLAWS, he examines deficiencies in this movement’s beliefs in the areas of faith, the nature of God, the understanding of the atonement, the fixation on health/wealth, and the theology of sickness/suffering.  After focusing on the negative aspects of these teachers and preachers, Hanegraaff offers several chapters of teaching on the “basics” of the faith in the areas of prayer, the Bible, the nature of the church, basic apologetics, and the theological non-negotiables of historic Christianity.  As is characteristic of Hanegraaff’s other works, he provides countless endnotes (nearly 75 pages) and a lengthy bibliography documenting the teachings of those under scrutiny, eliminating any serious accusation that he is taking these individuals out of context.

Hanegraaff’s lively writing style makes Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century an enjoyable read.  While he is to be considered an ardent defender of the faith, he is neither slanderous nor mean-spirited as he writes.  Two aspects of this book stand out and make it shine, in my opinion.  First, Hanegraaff is quick to separate the Word of Faith/Faith movement from Charismatic Christianity.  While the two are often lumped together by those in non-Charismatic circles, he points out the clear distinction between them in order to eliminate confusion for those who may erroneously believe or assume they are one-and-the-same.  Perhaps the most valuable portion of this book is the chapter titled, “Cast of Characters.”  In this chapter, Hanegraaff examines the false teachings of many prominent Faith teachers/preachers, including: Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Paula White, and many others.  His lucid writing style clearly communicates what these individuals teach as well as pointing out the problems associated with their teachings.

Regardless of whether or not one is familiar with the original edition of this work, Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century is sure to make a valuable addition to the library of any Christian seeking discernment in the midst of the sometimes-confusing landscape of American Christianity.

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One thought on “Book Review: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

  1. As I was searching for a completely different subject, I came across your blog. Having been a Lutheran for a great deal of my life (also Lutheran school), well, that added to my interest.

    In reading your thoughts about Hanegraff’s book, I have a boatload of thoughts, but most importantly, experiences. My journey started after I became born-again (a la Billy Graham)(age 19), which changed my life.

    Years later, I was reading Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” ~~~ I remember distinctly thinking…”if I died for people’s sicknesses, I’d sure be ticked off if they kept them.” ~~~ that was my first light-bulb that there was something more to healing and the promises of God, than the “normal” church taught.

    I have been a Lutheran, Presbyterian and attended Baptist and Bible churches. Even Charismatic churches. But rarely have I seen the power that accompanied Jesus, and the apostles in the Book of Acts.

    As I listened to some Word of Faith preachers…..mainly Kenneth Copeland….I was very turned off by his boldness which seemed tinged with arrogance. But the more I listened, I really couldn’t see anything unscriptural in what I was listening to….it started making more sense. And it had more power than what I’d been exposed to.

    Thankfully, I listened with more and more interest, especially in the area of healing…..within a year, I found a lump on my breast. I went on to battle a different lump three different times. The first one I took to a doctor and a surgeon, and it was the ‘good’ kind, just filled with fluid. The next two were hard and small. These times I decided to battle them with the Word of God (our sword of the Spirit), b/c by then I heard enough teaching and testimonies to finally be convinced. With both of them, I spoke the Word of God (healing Scriptures) to my body, being pursuaded that it had to eventually obey the Word. Sure enough, both times, the lump was gone in about two months. I have gone on to have many, many healings with the Word.

    As far as I have seen, a one sentence synopsis of K. Copeland’s teachings is that we find all the Scriptures about a subject, in order to find the whole counsel of God about it, and then we believe those Scriptures instead of the problem. (Romans 4) ~~~ I can find nothing wrong with that approach, and now that I know of it I highly recommend it for bringing MUCH comfort and direction. I recommend the teaching of Smith Wigglesworth and John G. Lake, for a precedent for this kind of teaching. Also, Bosworth.

    It has a power, and results, that I have rarely seen in most denominational churches. ~~~ I only offer this for your consideration, not to argue. ~~~ There was a time, too, that I was very skeptical. However, I kept a running Bible study on ‘word’ ‘mouth’ and ‘healing’, to make sure, and I assure you that I was flabbergasted as the study became its own teaching on these issues, and verified what Kenneth Copeland was teaching.
    Actually, I was also flabbergasted at the LACK of teaching on these subjects in all my schooling, and tons of sermons. Or, maybe I had heard them but not noticed, I don’t know. But since they were so new to me, I think that for the most part, they were rarely taught. I am very grateful for direction to pay attention to my words, and for the promises of God that are for our blessing
    (1Peter 1:3,4). It literally opens up a whole new world!

    Thanks very much, and God bless you!

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