Hank Hanegraaff, Most Prominent Calvinist Apologist against Prosperity Gospel, Leaves Calvinism
Additional Reading: Hank Hanegraaff and Confusions
Known as the “Bible Answer Man,” Hank Hanegraaff was received this week, through chrismation, in the Orthodox Church. Originally a Reformed Presbyterian, he became famous in the Christian Research Institute (CRI), the conservative Protestant countercult and apologetic ministry which Walter Martin founded in 1960.
While the CRI’ founder focused on real heresies, after Martin’s death Hanegraaff became president of CRI and expanded its focus to perceived heresies, especially among Pentecostals and charismatics. Differently from Martin, the Prosperity Gospel was Hanegraaff’s special negative attention.
In contrast, his special positive attention was Calvinism. CRI published the article “Why I Am a Calvinist,” which said, “I’m not afraid to be called a Calvinist. I’ve read the Institutes multiple times, most of Calvin’s commentaries, and was voted ‘Calvin Clone’ by my peers at seminary. I thank God for Calvin.”
Hanegraaff turned CRI into a war machine against the Prosperity Gospel. He became a main reference against this theology. Even the Lausanne Movement, of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, quoted him in the article “The Prosperity Gospel: A Critique of the Way the Bible is Used,” saying that “Hank Hanegraaff has traced the roots of many of these prosperity and faith teachers to the metaphysical cults.”
The most important meeting held by the Lausanne Movement against the Prosperity Gospel happened in Brazil in 2014, and it was led by Rev. Valdir Steuernagel, a Brazilian Lutheran minister who is a militant of the Theology of Integral Mission (TIM), which is the Protestant version of Liberation Theology.
Steuernagel’s denomination in Brazil is heavily involved in Liberation Theology, Gay Theology and TIM, but his worry is the Prosperity Gospel, which is not present in his church and has not brought the Gay Theology to his denomination.
In Brazil, Marxists and TIM militants hate the Prosperity Gospel and Marxist philosopher Marilena Chaui said that this theology is the number 1 enemy of the socialist revolution in Brazil. I do not understand this theology completely, but I see positively that it is a resistance to the socialist revolution in Brazil.
In the CRI’s list of heresies is “Charismatic/Pentecostal.” Hanegraaff even criticizes John Wimber over signs and wonders. Wimber was a Calvinist.
What kind of Calvinist was Hanegraaff if he could not accept Calvinist Wimber doing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus? Are signs and wonders against the Bible? If so, Jesus and his apostles were against the Bible.
Yet, Hanegraaff seems to have no difficulty to endorse Protestants activists who fight Israel and promote the Palestinian cause.
Hanegraaff was committed and solid in his Calvinist faith. What has happened? I do not know, but in Brazil many cessationist Calvinists who say that they have a “apologetic ministry” have focused on the Prosperity Gospel. Interestingly, this theology does not affect Calvinist churches in Brazil, Europe and America. Even so, these churches are victims of the theological liberalism brought specially by the Social Gospel (very similar to TIM), and the result is: support to abortion, sodomy, stances against Israel, etc.
The Prosperity Gospel has zero influence in these liberal problems in Calvinist churches. So it is surprising that Calvinist apologetic ministries focus on this theology and largely dismiss the Social Gospel, which affects these churches.
Hanegraaff seems to have burnt out himself advocating Calvinism and fighting the charismatic and Pentecostal movement. If he wanted traditionalism, actually a Presbyterian church is only midway to it. The Catholic Church, or the Orthodox Church, is the only way for those wanting to embrace total traditionalism. This was Hanegraaff’s choice.
Do not get me wrong. I appreciate Wimber’s Calvinism. But a Christianity without signs and wonders leaves its adherents disorientated and dry. This was Hanegraaff’s case.
Hanegraaff turned the Christian Research Institute into a war machine against Pentecostals and charismatics because he was a Calvinist.
Hanegraaff turned the Christian Research Institute into a war machine against the Prosperity Gospel because he was a Calvinist.
What about now that he has left Calvinism?
For him, was Calvinism wrong after all?
Portuguese version of this article: Hank Hanegraaff, o maior apologeta calvinista americano contra a Teologia da Prosperidade, abandona o calvinismo
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