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Many of you will have heard of a book that was released many years ago called "Kingdom of the Cults". It was a book written by the great Walter Martin who at the time was founder and president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI). CRI is the worlds largest apologetics ministry dedicated to counter cult apologetics and a defense of the historic Christian faith.

The information they have on church history is immense especially in regards to the writings of the early church fathers all the way through to when the Church split into Roman Catholicism (Rome) and Eastern Orthodoxy (Constantinople). They have a significant archive of documentation on the reformation period and the rise of Protestantism all the way up to the modern era where they have provided a significant amount of insight in regards to organizations like the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science and the Worldwide Church of God.

When Walter Martin passed away in 1989 the presidency was then taken over by Hank Hanegraaf. Hanegraaff  also known as the Bible Answer Man is an outspoken figure within the Christian counter-cult movement where he has established a reputation for his criticisms of non-Christian religions, new religious movements and cults, as well as heresy in Christianity. He is also a preterist apologist on doctrinal and cultural issues which clearly put him at odds with the mainstream "futurist" bible prophecy community.

As part of his role as ministry president, Hanegraaff assumed the role from Martin of anchorman on the radio program The Bible Answer Man. The content of The Bible Answer Man show includes answering questions about Christian doctrine, biblical interpretation, and denominational particularities, as well as special focuses on particular issues when a notable figure is a guest, such as frequent shows focused on Mormonism when former Mormons appear in studio as guests to speak from their experiences.

Throughout the 1990s, Hanegraaff engaged in dialogue with Joseph Tkach, Jr. and other leaders of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), now known as Grace Communion International (GCI). The WCG was founded in the 1930s by Herbert W. Armstrong, and had long been regarded as a cult by evangelicals, primarily for its denial of the Trinity and other traditional Christian doctrines. Following Armstrong's death in 1986, the group re-evaluated many of its teachings, including the British Israel doctrine and various eschatological predictions. Hanegraaff was one of a handful of evangelical apologists, including Ruth A. Tucker, who assisted in the reforms. The biggest changes to ensure their acceptance among evangelicals were in accepting the doctrine of the Trinity and salvation by grace through faith

As an author known for his books “Counterfeit Revival,” “The Authentic Christian Life,” “The Apocalypse Code,” “The Farce of Evolution” and “The Creation Answer Book" Hanegraaf is probably best known for his book released in 1993, Christianity in Crisis. Hanegraaff charged the word of faith movement with heretical teachings, saying that many of the Word of Faith groups were cults, and that those who knowingly accepted the movement's theology were "clearly embracing a different gospel, which is in reality no gospel at all."

His attacked spared none focusing on Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch Snr, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar and Frederick Price amongst others. We have provided below a snapshot of part 1 of the audio book for you to listen to in which one of the word of faith proponents actually believed Walter Martin had died as a result of judgement for speaking out against word of faith movement theology.

 

Hanegraaff revisited some of the same issues in his 1997 book "Counterfeit Revival", in which he rejected the claims of many charismatic teachers such as Rodney Howard Browne concerning what became known as the Toronto Blessing. The Toronto Blessing was associated with the Vineyard church located near the Toronto Airport, and was marked by spontaneous and sustained outbursts of bodily phenomena such as laughter, shaking, bouncing, and "resting in the Spirit." A different set of phenomena and claims subsequently emanated from churches in Brownsville, Pensacola, Florida, and became known as the Brownsville Revival.

However there has been recent shock across the Christian world when recent photos began circulating of the 67-year-old Hanegraaff being received into Eastern Orthodoxy at Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, along with his wife and two of his children, prompting questions and online chatter.

Recently, a listener to Hanegraaff’s radio broadcast called in to inquire if he had indeed converted to Orthodoxy. He advised that he has been attending Saint Nektarios for more than two years, but is just now becoming a member.

“I am now a member of an Orthodox church, but nothing has changed in my faith,” Hanegraaff said. “I have been attending an Orthodox church for a long time—for over two years, really, as a result of what happened when I went to China many years ago.”

He said that in witnessing the simplicity and passion of Chinese Christians, he was led to study Watchman Nee and theosis (a teaching of the Eastern Orthodox regarding union with God) and felt drawn to the days of the early Church.

“I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life,” Hanegraaff explained. “I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“One man … said to me, ‘Truth matters, but life matters more.’ In other words, it is not just knowing about Jesus Christ; it is experiencing the resurrected Christ,” he said. “As a result of that, I started studying what was communicated by the progeny of Watchman Nee with respect to theosis and that drove me back to the early Christian Church.”

Hanegraaff says that since then, he’s “been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ, and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table.”

Hanegraaff had interviewed Greek Orthodox priest Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo on his radio broadcast last April, and discussed theosis on his show in March. On April 4th, a listener asked why he seemed to have such an interest in Eastern Orthodoxy.

“In the present, just as the Eastern Orthodox Church has been impacted by our ministry, I’ve been impacted by Eastern Orthodox people who have a very keen sense of Church history and have absolute fidelity to the essentials of the historic Christian faith,” he said. “And so, this is all part of championing mere Christianity and learning.”

So who and what is the Orthodox Church?

The Eastern Orthodox Church, also known as the Orthodox Church, or officially as the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second largest Christian church and one of the oldest extant religious institutions in the world. The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission to the apostles. It practices what it understands to be the original Christian faith and maintains the sacred tradition passed down from the apostles.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is a communion of autocephalous churches, each typically governed by a Holy Synod. It teaches that all bishops are equal by virtue of their ordination, and has no central governing structure analogous to the Papacy in the Roman Catholic Church. The contemporary Orthodox Church had shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism of AD 1054, which had been triggered by disputes over doctrine, especially the authority of the Pope.

Eastern Orthodoxy spread throughout the Roman and later Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empires and beyond, playing a prominent role in European, Near Eastern, Slavic, and some African cultures. During the first eight centuries of Christian history, most major intellectual, cultural, and social developments in the Christian Church took place within the Empire or in the sphere of its influence, where the Greek language was widely spoken and used for most theological writings. As a result, the term "Greek Orthodox" has sometimes been used to describe all of Eastern Orthodoxy in general, with the word "Greek" referring to the heritage of the Byzantine Empire.

As a consequence of Hanegraafs decision to join the Orthodox Church the "Bible Answer Man" radio show program has been taken off air from Bott Radio Network (BRN). BRN says on its website that it operates over 100 broadcast signals with a combined coverage of 51 million people in 15 states, offering "family quality Christian programming 24 hours a day.

"We want to make sure that our listeners know that the programming that we have on Bott Radio Network is thoroughly biblical," said BRN President Richard P. Bott II, a member of Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kansas, according to Baptist Press. BRN had reportedly been broadcasting the "Bible Answer Man" since the 1980s, even before Hanegraaff joined the show in 1989.

Others are also concerned about the development as they believe that the Orthodox are not really orthodox in doctrine.

“The Orthodox Church is a false expression of Christianity, much like the Roman Catholic Church, that is highly driven by graven images and denies the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and instead, trusts in meritorious works and a sacramental system for salvation,” wrote Jeff Maples of Pulpit and Pen on Monday.

Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis ministry, warned about the points on which Eastern Orthodoxy differs from evangelicalism. "Many years of missionary work in Eastern Europe and Russia have led me to conclude that the gospel is not often proclaimed in the Orthodox Church. Church services are ritualistic exercises that focus on the icons and the sacraments," Dr. D. Trent Hyatt wrote in a chapter for Answers in Genesis' World Religions and Cults book series.

"It is all too easy to trust in those sacraments to save one and on the icons to sanctify one rather than in the finished work of Christ on the Cross in our behalf," he argued.

Philip Roberts, director for international theological education with the Global Ministries Foundation in Tennessee, suggested that the conversion of the "Bible Answer Man" has raised questions in the evangelical world, however.

"Of course, the roots of Eastern Orthodox theology go back centuries -- even to the ancient creeds, councils and church theologians," Roberts said.

"The problem is what has happened since then in terms of revisions and interpretations in Eastern Orthodox thinking by eastern mystical thinkers" involving "the biblical doctrines of God, Adam, humankind, sin and salvation."

Roberts challenged Orthodoxy's claim to be the "early church" and to represent "the faith of Peter and Paul," and said that while it has roots in the ancient church, its ceremonies and theology have developed gradually throughout the centuries.

For more on this subject matter see http://www.thenewagegods.com

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