Book Review: Christianity in Crisis

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century is a re-release of Hank Hanegraaff’s popular Christianity in Crisis, written more than 20 years ago.  Then names have changed but a basic theme of New Age Christianity remains the same.  The health and wealth gospel is as strong now as it has ever been, and just as dangerous.

Hanegraaff is thorough in his research of the “Word of Faith” movement and other New Age groups within Christianity  and the book contains extensive notes and a huge bibliography.    While Hanegraaff casts himself as a neutral observer, his bias toward Calvinism and against the Charismatic Movement makes the reader wary of taking the author completely at his word.  I would be more inclined to believe what he writes if he spoke with a bit more compassion and moderation.  None-the-less, in his defense, when the authority of Scripture is ignored and divinity of Christ is denied there isn’t very much room to work with.  Hanegraaf uncovers a world that I was not even aware of.

Joel Osteen and others are famous for the name it / claim it Christianity, “You create your own world the same way God creates His. He speaks, and things happen; you speak, and they happen.”  Hanegraaff is vivid in the way he uncovers how this human notion corrupts the integrity of the Gospel.

Christianity in Crisis is well-researched, disturbing, saddening and frustrating, all at the same time. It is a timely book but it does have it’s weaknesses.  Hanegraaff’s style is abrasive and it makes the book good for convincing opponents of the health and wealth gospel of their position but it isn’t going to be very useful in convicting those in health and wealth churches of the problem.  It comes across not as a compassionate apologetic for the faith but instead as a passionate rebuke for those in the New Age Movement.

One highlight of the book was in Appendix B where Hanegraff provides a succinct apologetic for the Christian Faith with the use of three acronyms (he is big on the acronyms).  The first acronym F-A-C-E is an illustration of the problems with Evolution: F (Fossil Record), A (Ape-Men), C (Chance), E (Empirical Science).  The second, F-E-A-T is in defense of the Christian Faith: F (Fatal Torment), E (Empty Tomb), A (Appearances) and T (Transformation).  The third acronym is M-A-P-S, a defense of the inspiration of the Scriptures: M (Manuscript Evidence), A (Archaeology), P (Prophecy), S (Scriptural Synergy)

For further reading on the subject John MacArthur has written extensively on similar themes.  The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith?, Charismatic Chaos, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception and others.

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