Friday, July 03, 2009

Book Review 1 - Chrstianity in Crisis

This is a book review on a book that I more or less "stumbled across" in a Family Christian Bookstore catalog: CHRISTIANITY IN CRISIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY. The author, Hank Hanegraaff, has quite a few books to his name, but this is the only one I have seen.

A reviewer on Amazon made the statement: "... he correctly points out that no teacher has the free hand to have his teachings go unquestioned. We should never be in the habit of receiving a teaching or teacher without examining its biblical accuracy. This book correctly points this out."

And this reviewer is completely correct. Is it no wonder that we hear those in the congregation (and those who should be in the congregation) espousing points of view that are quasi-Biblical or just plain non-Biblical?

In the past, I didn't pay much attention to television preachers, as I was too lazy to spend the time examining their doctrine. Bringing these so called christian leaders to our attention, the author exposes the cult like teachings of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, and many others. He also takes to task others like Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, who I would consider (and I could be wrong) more of the "christianity lite" variety. All are, in one form or another, "prosperity preachers," espousing the view that we can tell God what to do.

I don't take the author's word for everything. "No teacher has a free hand to have his teachings go unquestioned" includes him. While I have not finished the book, some of what I read indicates he may have trouble interpreting Romans Chapter 8 among others.

The early chapters were hard for me to read, because I kept referring back to the "end notes" to see where he got such outrageous material. He supports each and every accusation of their heresy with citations on when and where the heretics made those statements. As the book progresses, it seems to get repetitive, but that is partially because each of the "cast of characters," as he calls them, espouses very similar viewpoints. He does, also, examine some of them from more than one angle. One irritant for me is that most of the more outrageous statements these prosperity preachers have made were in the 80's and 90's, giving them the opportunity to say that he is judging them unfairly because they have learned better since. I haven't heard any of them say that, but I do know that Jim Bakker later repented (although I don't know what he has been doing since).

Towards the middle of the book, which is where I am currently studying, he begins to compare their theology with the classical theology of the traditional Church. He supports his theological arguments well, and shows how, many times, even a shallow study of the context of the prosperity doctrine's biblical references reveals the absolute lunacy of their interpretation.

Well the book is about 400 pages, and I am only halfway through, so I should write more in the future.

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