Scripture and the News

'Bible Answer Man' Becomes 'Insufficiency of Scripture Man'

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
It is not how a man begins that matters, but how he ends. "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff is headed for a disastrous end.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

It is not how a man begins that matters, but how he ends. "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff is headed for a disastrous end. He has now joined the apostate Greek Orthodox Church. If he continues on this course and does not repent, he will demonstrate that he was never a regenerated Christian at all.

May 2017 - Scripture is filled with examples that teach us this lesson: It is not how a man begins that ultimately matters, but how he ends.

Our forefather Adam, created in perfection, given every possible advantage, rebelled against his Creator and plunged the human race and the entire created order into the bondage of sin. King Solomon of Israel squandered the wisdom and riches God gave him by embracing the false gods of his thousand wives and concubines. Judas Iscariot, despite initial outward appearances, ultimately demonstrated that he was a son of perdition by betraying the Lord Jesus.

We also have a very recent example: On April 9th, Hank Hanegraaff, head of the Christian Research Institute, who for decades has billed himself as the "Bible Answer Man" on his radio program heard around the world, abandoned authentic Biblical Christianity and became a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. If Hanegraaff continues on this course and does not repent, he will have demonstrated that he was never a regenerated believer at all.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 John 2:18-19)

What Hanegraaff Has Now Embraced

Hanegraaff underwent the Greek Orthodox sacrament of chrismation, which that church falsely teaches is the means by which a person is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit through the application of anointing oil. Note this carefully: Greek Orthodoxy teaches that it is the institutional church - not the sovereign God - that gives people the Third Person of the Trinity.

When asked why he made such a move, this was the essence of Hanegraaff's answer: Scripture alone is no longer enough for me. Instead, at age 67 he has now embraced a false religion that places human tradition above the Word of God. One online publication suggested that Hanegraaff, having abandoned the authority of Scripture alone, should now re-brand himself as "Apostolic Tradition Man". I believe a more apt description would be "Insufficiency of Scripture Man".

Hanegraaff now claims that Greek Orthodoxy is "original" Christianity. But while Greek Orthodoxy uses many Biblical terms, like Roman Catholicism it twists them to have un-Biblical meanings.

Contrary to Scripture, it teaches that justification is not by faith alone in the merits of Christ alone. It propagates the falsehood that salvation comes by adding dead works to the righteousness of Christ. Greek Orthodoxy is also a religion of idolatry, impelling its followers to kiss and venerate the icons that line the walls of its church buildings rather than giving glory to the Triune God alone.

Hanegraaff's "Reassurances" to His Followers

In a post on his website, Hanegraaff sought to "reassure" his followers and financial supporters:

My purpose in this post is not so much to respond but to reassure. As I have never been more in love with my wife and family, so, too, I have never been more in love with the Lord Jesus and His body the church. As such,

I confess my faith in the deity of Jesus Christ - "the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made."

I affirm the doctrine of original sin - "sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).

I am deeply committed to "the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15) and to the Holy Scriptures, the only infallible repository of redemptive revelation (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

I love the Holy Trinity - one God revealed in three Persons eternally distinct. And am deeply grateful that the true and living God invites us to participate in the loving relationships that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have enjoyed throughout eternity.

I hold to the glorious reality that Jesus "rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father."

I am grateful to the Lord Jesus "who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man."

I thank God daily that I am a new creation in Christ. For by grace I have been saved through faith, and that not of myself; it is the gift of God, not of works lest I should boast. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

"I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come."

While there are many secondary issues genuine believers will continue to debate this side of eternity, I have and will always champion what C. S. Lewis called mere Christianity. "In essentials unity, non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity." [1]

Hanegraaff's statements above could have been made by any Roman Catholic, an unregenerated member of a mainline denomination, a Seventh Day Adventist, or even a Mormon - as well as a member of the Orthodox church. Such a mere formula of words does not make one a true believer in Christ, possessing eternal life. The "Christ" Hanegraaff claims to be "in love with" is not the Christ of Scripture.

The Missing Essentials

What is missing from Hanegraaff's "reassurances"? The great truths - the solas or "alones" - that were long obscured in the darkness of Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but were recovered by the Reformers at the time of the Protestant Reformation:

Sola Scriptura: Our doctrine is from Scripture alone.
Solus Christus: We are saved by Christ's work alone.
Sola Gratia: Salvation is by grace alone.
Sola Fide: Justification is by faith alone.
Soli Deo Gloria: The glory belongs to God alone.

The Greek Orthodox, like the Roman Catholics, deny them all, and for five centuries have fought against the Protestant re-assertion of these essential Biblical truths. Hanegraaff has now embraced their denials.

The Greek Orthodox exchange Sola Scriptura for man's fallible perspectives on Scripture codified in volumes of traditions; they effectively place those traditions above Scripture.

The Greek Orthodox exchange Solus Christus for Christ-plus-works; they deny the sufficiency of the imputation of His righteousness to sinners.

The Greek Orthodox exchange Sola Gratia for a view of "grace" which denies that God's favor will, in the end, be unmerited except through the merits of Christ; the Orthodox, like the Romanists, assert that "grace" is bestowed by the institutional church.

The Greek Orthodox exchange Sola Fide for justification by man's faithfulness.

Thus the Greek Orthodox in practice deny Soli Deo Gloria: They remove Christ from His throne; they remove Scripture from the place of sole authority; human works and human wisdom are in the ascendant. Greek Orthodoxy suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, exchanging the truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:18, 25).

Hanegraaff places these essential truths in the category of "non-essentials" on which "liberty" is required, as did the Anglo-Catholic C. S. Lewis, who believed that sacraments save a soul.[2]

Hanegraaff Has Embraced What Christ Condemned

Hanegraaff has fallen prey to the same falsehood that Jesus condemned when He confronted the Jewish religious leaders during His days on earth:

...[Y]ou have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:6-9)

Let Us Hold Fast to the Truth of Scripture

In this year when Bible-believing Christians commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must remind ourselves what it means to be a Protestant - and not merely a nominal Protestant, but a regenerated, blood-bought child of God: It means believing that the Christian's authority is Scripture alone. It means believing that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone. It means holding fast to the truth that all the glory belongs to God alone.

Dear Christian reader, may God preserve you from being ensnared by "the commandments and doctrines of men." We are nothing. Christ and His Word are everything.

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)

References:

1. Hank Hanegraaff, "Have I 'Left the Christian Faith'?" as viewed on 4/13/2017 at http://www.equip.org/article/left-christian-faith

2. Evangelicals who insist that C. S. Lewis was an orthodox Christian are seriously mistaken, and in many cases this reflects their own misunderstanding of authentic Biblical Christianity. Lewis did not believe that Scripture is entirely the Word of God, and he did not believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. He taught that salvation requires partaking of the sacraments of water baptism and the Eucharist, and living a life of good works. He referred to Christ's atonement as merely "the bit we could not have done for ourselves." See our Bible Knowledgebase article, "C. S. Lewis: Fifty Years Onward."

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