Friday, November 6, 2009

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

I was delighted to read Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century Edition by Hank Hanegraaff. [Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson in exchange for my agreement to review it.]

When I was in college, the first edition of this book came out. I was floored; I had always had a hunch that guys like Benny Hinn, Robert Schuler, and Kenneth Copeland were more snake-oil salesmen than they were Bible preachers, but I never knew how, to what extent, or just how dangerous they were. Kanegraaff picked their teachings apart astutely, always pointing out from direct quotes where the errors were, and always pointing the reader back to the true, biblical understanding of the same subject.

Incidentally, a friend of mine had the audio-book version, and it was amazing: everywhere there were plain quotes in the printed text version, the audio-book provided an original audio clip of the heretic in question saying exactly what was quoted!

Fast foward almost 20 years, and there are still lots of snake-oil salesmen around. Some of the same guys are peddling their lies, but a whole swath of new folks have emerged on the scene. Hanegraaff faithfully takes these guys on, too: Joel Osteen, Joyce Myer, Creflo Dollar, and others fall flat on their faces as Hank picks their teachings apart.

Two things I really appreciate about this book:
  • First, we're not talking about mere nit-picking or looking under every rock. Hanegraaff reveals the serious errors in the big-picture ideas that these teachers present. They don't simply misspeak or occasionally say something unclearly; these people are perverting the Gospel almost every time they open their mouths publicly, and Hanegraaff reveals this.
  • Secondly, he doesn't do it in a mean-spirited or unkind manner. He's gentle and loving about it, concerned for the souls of the people who listen to these false teachers AND the false teachers themselves. The tone of the book is firm, and even aggressive at times, but Hanegraaff carefully avoids ad hominems and vitriolic attitudes.

(Buy it here from Amazon.)

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