REVIEW: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Ken Hanegraaff

A reworking of the book released 20 years ago, Author Ken Hanegraaff makes it clear his view that the “Word of Faith” movement is a dangerous departure from solid Biblical tenets and cancer growing within Christianity. Hanegraaff, an Evangelical Christian, lays out his argument by painting the “Word of Faith” movement with a broad brush, developing caricatures of the increasing popular leaders of movement and ultimately using these to support his claim that movement and its leaders are not charismatic, they are cultic.

Hanegraaff takes great care to not label everyone involved in the movement. He admits that there are good, committed Christians involved with “Word of Faith” churches. However, he writes them off as new or misinformed Christians.

Principle to his arguments are the three steps: Ask, Believe and Receive. Stating that whatever one states, positive or negative, is spoken into one’s lives. Hanegraaff believes these ideas deify man and Satan and demote God and Jesus. The author also deals with issues of the atonement, wealth and sickness.

Hanegraaff does offer five chapters that lay out a course of action to steer a reader to a balanced view of the Christian faith. He focuses on the primary issues in which Christians should find common ground and leaves the secondary issues that often divide to be debated beyond the book.

While Hanegraaff’s work is full of scholarship and Biblical reference his arguments early on appear to be strawmen. The author returns time and time again to a Biblical model of faith and repeating his belief that the up and coming almost “rock stars” of the Faith movement are a danger to Christianity centered in Christ.

My analysis is “Christianity in Crisis” will be well received by evangelicals, spurned by those active in Word of Faith churches and a launching pad for discussion for those main stream Christians wishing to bridge idealistic chasms and dialogue about our stories and the richness of faith.

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