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Is Hank Hanegraaff a False Teacher?

HomeChristianity and the BibleIs Hank Hanegraaff a False Teacher?

I’m often asked to assess what others teach. I do not do this lightly, but it is necessary. Before reading this page, or any of the pages about specific people, I recommend that you read What is a False Teacher?, which explains what the Bible says about false teachers, and why I would bother to research who they are and what they say. You may also want to check out a list of Bible Teachers I Can Recommend.

I’m happy to see that you’re looking for a second opinion on whether anyone, including Hank Hanegraaff, is a false teacher. That’s wise. This article is based on an email exchange and is a work in progress. It’s designed to continue the conversation about false teachers, not to end it.

Hank Hanegraaff is the president of the Christian Research Institute, a radio and print ministry dedicated to teaching essential Christian doctrine and exposing false teachers.
Hank Hanegraaff

My experiences

I first started listening to the Bible Answer Man radio show when I was a young teenager, around 1980. Dr. Walter Martin was the Bible Answer Man, and it was amazing. Much of my current ministry can be traced back to the many, many hours I spent learning from him. I have two different editions of Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults, which is essentially the book on modern cults. I still, from time to time, look up some of the YouTube videos of Martin’s teaching. He was knowledgeable, and he was kind without being weak. When he died, Hank took his place at the CRI, the Christian Research Institute. I’ve read a number of Hank’s books, I’ve listened to literally thousands of hours of his program, and I’ve read the magazine and the online articles. Again, much of what I do today – whether it’s writing on this website or teaching in my local church – is based on what I learned from these two men over most of my life. I’m not a fanboy. I wouldn’t look the other way if they were doing something wrong. I’m simply saying that I have extensive personal experience with CRI. Keep in mind that this ministry has employed, and worked with, some of the best Christian researchers around. Were Hanegraaff a false teacher, one would expect these people to speak out.

Criticisms

Hank’s ministry at CRI has been marked by two different ‘scandals.’ The first is the claim that he stole the ministry, and the second is that he’s no longer a Christian. Walter Martin’s daughter Jill claimed that Hank had basically stolen the ministry, and that Walter Martin had no intention of naming Hank as his successor. Audio provided by Martin’s other daughter Cindee showed that Martin had indeed chosen Hank, and that he spent a couple of years preparing both Hank and CRI for the transition. Martin’s family apparently didn’t know that he was very sick until he was close to dying, but Walter knew, and he worked to ensure that CRI could continue after his death.

That ‘scandal’ died down after a while, and Hank was seen by almost everyone as the rightful head of the ministry. Then, a few years ago, Hank became a member of the Eastern Orthodox church. That was a pretty big deal, and a whole bunch of people claimed that Hank was no longer a Christian. This ‘scandal’ died down after a while, too… but there are a few people out there who continue to claim that Hank has abandoned the gospel for a cult.

Assessment

So… how are to assess the claims? Just an accusation is enough for some people, even if the accusation comes with no evidence. You’re clearly not one of those people, since you’re looking for more information. I’ll give you my assessment: Hank Hanegraaff is not a false teacher.

To be a false teacher, Hank would have to be teaching false things… that is, he would have to teach things that are contrary to what Scripture clearly teaches. Most importantly, he would have to deny some essential part of Christianity. To my knowledge, Hank has never done anything like that. If he has, I’d like to hear it or read it myself… using his own words, I could compare what he says with what God says in the Bible. Having been around since before Hank took over CRI, and continuing to see what Hank says and does today, I have absolutely no evidence that he’s a false teacher.

My advice to you is simple: if you’re concerned about what Hank teaches, read the New Testament. Be familiar with what Jesus said and did, and what His disciples wrote about Him. That way, if Hank says something wrong, you’ll KNOW it’s wrong because you know what the Bible says. It’s not enough to simply say, “he’s a false teacher.” That’s a serious claim that requires evidence. For the record, “he’s Eastern Orthodox” isn’t actually evidence that anyone is a false teacher.

Does that make sense? The person making the claim should provide evidence for the claim. After examining the evidence, one might find that they assumed too much, and that the evidence points in the other direction. The accusation that someone is a false teacher is very serious, which is why I’m very careful to provide direct quotes from the people involved.


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Comments

6 responses to “Is Hank Hanegraaff a False Teacher?”

  1. Bert says:

    i just read Hank’s Apocalypse Code (2007) and he definitely teaches error, generally following liberal Protestant theology regarding the Books of Daniel and Revelation (note that in 2007 he was not yet Orthodox). He also uses ad hominem arguements and arguements from silence to support his positions, as well as outright distortions of facts.

    • Tony says:

      Bert:

      It sounds like you’re saying that you and Hank disagree on certain aspects of eschatology. That’s not surprising, and it doesn’t mean Hank is a false teacher. Even if he’s wrong about this secondary issue, being in error about eschatology is a far cry from teaching errors about the gospel.

  2. Tim Smith says:

    I would say he is one to stay away from shy of being a false teacher but I would say definitely misleading

    Abs because a teacher is to live by a higher standard I would say he does not pass that test anymore

    One major thing that was not mentioned in this article is that Hank also changed his view on theology and eschatology

    He is a full blown Preterist saying the end of things have already been fulfilled in 70AD

    If this true then it sure took him a very long time a life time ti come to that fact

    To change positions this late as a teacher is unacceptable for these issues of theology should be settled once and for all.

    This makes him as a teacher wishy washy and has not earned is honor ti be trusted

    Lastly he believes in the sacraments that the sacrament of bread and wine is actually is turned to blood and flesh and has powers within them vs simply honoring what Christ has done and is for us

    These are great issues and for these issues alone is strong enough to avoid this man

    What is next that he will do an about face! He can learn on his own paying his own price for his learning experience and walking as a followers vs a very well paid teacher

    • Tony says:

      Tim:

      You would say, you would say, you would say.

      With respect, what YOU would say is irrelevant. What I would say is irrelevant as well. The ONLY standard by which we should judge whether someone teaches falsely is to compare what they say with Scripture… period.

      To be blunt:

      • I don’t care if you would say he’s one step away from being a false teacher. Compare his words with Scripture and we can begin that assessment.
      • I don’t care if you think he doesn’t pass the ‘higher standard’ test. That’s not for you or me to decide. Compare his words with Scripture.
      • I don’t care if he’s changed his views on some things. We all have room to grow. Compare his words with Scripture.
      • You’re misrepresenting his position on eschatology. He is not a full preterist, he’s a partial preterist. Many faithful people are. Compare his words with Scripture and we can begin that assessment.
      • It doesn’t matter how long it takes someone to come to a conclusion about anything. Compare his words with Scripture.
      • I don’t care if you think changing positions later in life is acceptable. Compare his words with Scripture.
      • I don’t care if you think changing positions makes someone wishy-washy. Compare his words with Scripture and we can begin that assessment.
      • I don’t care what you OR Hank think about the Lord’s Supper. Compare his words with Scripture.
      • You’re free to avoid Hank Hanegraaff if you wish. Telling others that he is a false teacher without providing evidence is not a good idea. You risk bearing false witness against your neighbor, who also claims the name of Christ. Only compare his words with Scripture and we can begin that assessment.

      I hope you’ve notice a pattern here, Tim. Your opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s unless your opinion matches what we find in Scripture. Simply disagreeing with someone about an in-house debate like communion or the rapture is not enough to malign someone as a teacher to be avoided. To suggest it is to suggest that everyone must agree with you, or be unreliable. A more mature believer understands that there are some things in Scripture that are abundantly clear, and unmistakable… and there are others that are not. A more mature believer would also understand that there will be millions (if not billions) of followers of Jesus in Heaven who will correct both you and me on what we believe.

      Be mature, Tim. Stand strong for what is clear in God’s Word… but don’t pretend that everyone must agree on everything to be a reliable teacher of the gospel. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day!

  3. Scott Pietig says:

    Hank does not believe Paul’s teaching of two gospels in fact he totally discredits Paul’s teaching in Galatians. When Paul gave the right hand of fellowship he was agreeing with the Peter that Peter will keep preaching to the circumcised and he Paul will keep preaching to the uncircumcised. The uncircumcised is the Gentiles. The gentiles do not follow the law. The Jew do. The Judeans kept coming to Paul’s followers and telling that they must be circumcised to be saved. To the point that in 2 Timothy he said that all those in Asia have turned away from me.

    • Tony says:

      Scott:

      Thanks for visiting GodWords! How did you find me? I’m always curious.

      With respect, I find your comment troubling. Paul did not teach that there are two gospels. Peter and Paul agreed to work with different groups, but this wasn’t because they preached different gospels. It’s because they preached the same gospel to different audiences. At no point in the New Testament do we see any reference to more than one true gospel. When Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem in response to a revelation and explained what he was teaching, they added nothing to his message. All through the New Testament we see “the gospel” over and over. We never see anything like “the other gospel.”

      In Ephesians 2 we see that Jesus broke down the wall that divided Jews and Gentiles, and that the two groups – once separated – were now one:

      For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

      The Jews do not follow the law. The entire book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience. They were being persecuted for their faith, and were considering turning back to Judaism to avoid it. The strongest language is used in five warnings to NOT go back to following the law. They were told that turning back would be disobedience, like the disobedience in the wilderness that kept Moses out of the promised land. The warning? If they turned back to Judaism, they – Christian Jews – would never enter God’s rest.

      If the Jews followed the law, Paul – a Jew – would never have written this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

      Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

      Not under the law. For the sake of THE gospel.

      Again: with respect, your disagreements with Hank about these things are also disagreements with the clear teaching of Scripture. I don’t know who taught you that there are two gospels, but there are not. There is only one gospel, as we see in Jude 3:

      Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

      THE faith. ONE gospel. ONE way to salvation. Let me know if you’d like to discuss this further. It seems pretty important, as I’m sure you’d agree.

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