Irony of ironies, Christian Research Institute president and host of the radio broadcast The Bible Answer Man Hank Hanegraaff has abandoned the Evangelical church and joined a Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, N.C. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the theology of the Orthodox branch of Christianity, they practice the veneration of Mary, prayers to dead saints, and the rejection of sola scriptura (the belief that the scriptures alone are our authority in spiritual matters, not scripture and church tradition) and sola fide (salvation by faith alone). As you might imagine, this isn’t going over too well with the Evangelical world that comprises the vast majority of the BAM listening audience. After all, the CRI founder – the late Dr. Walter Martin – was a devout Evangelical and founded CRI as an Evangelical Christian apologetics ministry.
When I wrote my book Defending the Faith: Word of Faith Apologetics I pointed out that much of the criticism of the WoF comes from an organization that refuses to brand Catholicism heresy. Now I think I can see why. Mr. Hanegraaff has apparently always been a closet admirer of the rituals and tradition (Dr. James White calls it the “bells and smells”) of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
When I learned about his recent conversion to Orthodoxy, I began to look around for information to shed some light on the matter and found out that the answer man isn’t and never has been the man that most of his listeners would have imagined. His background was business and fundraising rather than apologetics, and he assumed control of CRI under dubious circumstances that still have people talking some 28 years later.