book report: Christianity in Crisis, 21st century by Hannegraf

I think Hannegraf’s latest book, Christianity in Crisis, 21st Century, could have been half the length and twice as good. As he mentions in the preface,
Twenty years ago, I began working on a book…., titled Christianity in Crisis, [that] unmasked the fatal flaws of a movement that threatens to undermine the very foundation of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” (p. ix).
I did not read that particular book, previously written, yet as I looked at the endnotes, being the compulsive reader that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the dearth of 21st century quotes. I felt this should have been the 10 year update, not the 20th. Most of the recent quotes come in the latter half of the book, which is why I think this book could have been half as long.

I don’t disagree with him that many of these preachers focus themselves and their listeners on rewards today instead of in heaven. In fact, he won’t say it, but makes it obvious that many of these ministers of the gospel serve mammon and not God. Regarding his claim that this theology could undermine the very foundation of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, I’m not so sure. Here is an example of his claims that go to far. He weighs the words of Charles Capps who tries to describe the inner workings of Christ’s conception. “He goes on to say, ‘The embryo in Mary’s womb was nothing but the pure word of God – and it took flesh upon itself.’ Capps concludes his heretical remarks by saying, “Jesus Christ was born of a virgin through the miraculous conception of faith – the God-kind of faith.’ With a single stroke of the pen, Capps corrupts the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ into a miraculous confession. It this isn’t heresy what is?” (p.121) I like Theopedia’s answer to that question, “While there is a temptation for Christians to label whatever is not in keeping with sound doctrine as heresy, the Bible seems to make the distinction that heresy is not merely the opposite of orthodoxy. Rather, heresy is a divisive teaching or practice which forces those who call themselves Christians to separate from it or face condemnation for it. John the Apostle gave a prime example of such a doctrine: denying the true nature of the person and work of Jesus Christ (I John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-11).” Maybe Charles Capps is loony, but the speculative stuff he comes up with in this case is not heresy. This whole discussion of Hanegraff’s occurs in his debate over the translation of the Greek genitive, which tells me, he is probably not a Koine Greek reader himself. This is not a bad thing, but perhaps he should not wade into the deep end of the pool if he’s not going to swim without the water bubbles of A.T. Robertson, who is good to have with you, but better if you can swim some on your own.

His concluding chapters were really good. He provided a back to basics overview for the Christian to establish a healthy Christian lifestyle practices of prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship in a local church, basic apologetics, and essential doctrines and creeds. No matter how long you have been a believer, a review of the basics is always refreshing. Unfortunately, he started his review with a tragic newspaper headline, but the publisher missed an important typo. The story was about a Christian father and husband who died when the hot air balloon he was in hit power lines. The headline written in the book says, “4 Killed When Balloon Hits Wives and Burns” (p. 281). There were a few angles instead of angels in the book as well.

I would have enjoyed the book more if Hannegraf’s tone was not so bombastic in the beginning. He did tone it down towards the second half. I’d recommend getting this book but start reading it about half way through. You’ll be done faster and get less irritated by the author, who steps out of the way more towards the end.


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