A number of things have been going on in various places but none of them deserved a separate post. So I thought I’d put them up here for readers to peruse.
The first thing to note is that I wrote an article for Modern Reformation magazine about Hanegraaff’s conversion and the subsequent dust up, which has now been published. While it is behind a paywall, you can subscribe to it to get the article here if you so wish. There is nothing in the article that I haven’t written here already or doesn’t come out in the interview I did with Paul Vendredi. Given that I remember (and was there) when Modern Reformation was nothing more than four pages stapled together from a dot matrix printer, it is ironic that all I had to do to get an article published there was to convert to Orthodoxy and wait 25 years. And just so that everything is on the up and up, no, I did not pick the title. I had supplied a different title, “On Your Way Out the Door.” Nothing I wrote there is critical of the Orthodox church or its teaching per se.
For readers of MR you can find most of my previous posts on Hanegraaff here. For those interested, myself and other former employees, in cooperation with the Martin family are working to make all of the relevant documentation available on a separate site. So please feel free to check back here for updates should this matter interest you. In the meantime you can look through the articles linked above or some of those in the secular press about Hank’s misdeeds and scandals from years past here.
Hank’s Doctrinal Standards
Readers of the previous articles on Hanagraaff posted here linked to the then CRI doctrinal statement. A few weeks ago, Hanagraaff unilaterally changed that doctrinal statement to what it is now. So the links in my posts go to the current one rather than the one I originally cited. To see the contrast you can access the original doctrinal statement here. It should be obvious that despite his protests the contrary, Hanagraaff’s views have in fact changed, though he remains rather sheepish about this, probably because explicitly and directly denying Protestant distinctives would further harm his bottom line. (After all, can you imagine what the monthly payment is for his 3 million dollar mansion? The Gospel may be free but someone has to put in the gold plated plumbing, right?)
The backstory is the following. A number of CRI donors have contacted me expressing their concerns over the last nine months. Some of them had passed on to high level CRI staffers, such as Stephen Ross, links to the posts here. These staffers seem not to be aware of two facts. The first is that CRI has its own mail server. The second is that the blog software allows me to see on a daily and hourly basis where various hits are coming from, not just in terms of URL address but also geographically down to about a quarter mile. So it seems some of my posts were passed around internally at CRI. Within a week of that happening, Hank started talking on the FB live sessions about changing the doctrinal statement, and poof, the old doctrinal statement was gone.
A few things are significant here. First, if doctrine had been Hank’s primary concern, that is the truth of Orthodox teaching, the doctrinal statement should have been the first thing to change. But somehow it never crossed Hank’s mind that CRI’s doctrinal statement needed to be changed. I mean after all, if he says his views haven’t changed why would the doctrinal statement need to? But in fact it seems his views have changed.
Second, the original doctrinal statement was a collaboratively produced document from the research staff, but since Hank has eliminated them, Hank is free to unilaterally change the doctrinal statement to whatever he likes.
Third, the new doctrinal statement, which is nothing other than Hank’s own memory acronym “DOCTRINE” doesn’t do the work he wants it to do. He wishes it to express “Mere Christianity.” The idea seems to be, truths that all Christians agree on. But just reading the document, it should become clear that it just doesn’t. Take for example the canon listed under “C”. All Christians do not agree on the canon of scripture. Nor do we all agree on Trinitarian doctrine, the incarnation and anything else listed there. There are substantial differences between the major traditions on those doctrines.
One Hell of a Time
When Hank was outed by a leaked photo on Facebook for converting, I predicted that he was going to make serious theological mistakes. And this is because Hank has never been qualified for the position he holds, both lacking in education and experience. This is why unlike other apologists, he doesn’t do debates, save one in which he got annihilated and then acted like a petulant child. His entire standing as an apologist is a fraud. What should have happened was that the ecclesial powers that be should have given him a seminary level education in the two and a half years he was an inquirer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if he is on (then) national radio, he is going to be representing Orthodox theology. Either that or he should have retired.
But Hank has two other problems. The first is that he tends to be eclectic theologically, picking and choosing parts from various theological locales what he prefers. Second, given his background in marketing, he tends to follow the news of the day, hence the recent book on Islam bearing his name. All of that said, just the other day, Hank posted on the CRI Facebook page (January 5th, 2018) an article concerning the descensus infernum, the article in the Apostle’s Creed concerning Christ’s descent to Hades after his crucifixion. While legitimately targeting the quackadoxy of Word of Faith advocates like Joel Osteen, Hank goes much too far in eliminating the basis for the Orthodox (and Catholic) teaching as well. You can read the comments for yourself on the CRI Facebook page, where not a few Orthodox take Hank to task for his denial of the Church’s teaching. Not least among them, ironic as it is, is Frederica Matthews Green writing,
“I wonder, Hank, if this is an older article of yours, before you began exploring Orthodoxy? Perhaps these reprints come up automatically. This one should be reconsidered, though. Certainly, Orthodox do not believe (as Calvin taught) the Jesus went to hell in order to bear the punishment our sins deserve. We do believe that he entered Hades and freed the righteous departed who had been imprisoned there. An Orthodox painting titled “The Resurrection” will look like the one below. Christ has broken down the gates of Hades, tramples on the bound body of the evil one, and is pulling Adam and Eve from their graves, while St John the Baptist, King David, King Solomon, and other Old Testament saints attend.”
The article of course was originally published back in 2014 just before Hank began “exploring” Orthodoxy. But the salient point is, Hank just had it reposted yesterday (Jan 5th, 2018). And this is as I said in the past. There is just too much stuff bearing Hank’s name that is heterodox by Orthodox standards. Hank seems not to care though. He seems to be picking and choosing what he likes out of Orthodoxy. He doesn’t seem aware that it isn’t open to him to publicly dissent from the Church’s teaching on this or any other point. In short, Hank is still acting as if he is a practitioner of “Lone Ranger Christianity.”
To the contrary of Hank, Bishop Hilarion gives a good summary of the Church’s teaching on the descensus through many fathers that directly contradicts Hank’s reading of Scripture. As I have said before, all of this was easily avoidable, but no one wanted to listen because they were too busy involved in the excitement of hero worship. I hate to say it, but I told you so.
Sleeping with the Devil
Another item of note is Hank having a leading officer of Witness Lee’s heretical cult, the Local Church, on the BAM show. This follows CRI’s 2009 reversal of its longstanding evaluation of the Local Church, which flies in the face of the vast majority of other cult watcher organizations and individuals, not the least of them being say Cal Beisner (Gretchen Passantino’s brother) and former senior research figures at CRI like Paul Carden. This move is consistent, sad to say, with my and other former employees eyewitnesses experience of Hank selling doctrinal approval for profit. For those out of the loop, the Local Church is not only strongly Modalistic, to say the least, but presents itself as the only true church on the planet, having been established by supposedly, God’s hand picked man of the time, Witness Lee. Consequently, the Local Church views Rome and Protestants as whores and the bastard children of the whore, which of course includes Orthodoxy in their eyes. This is why they sometimes go by the name of “The Lord’s Recovery” with the idea being that God is recovering the church through them alone. I know, I used to live at the corner of Brookhurst and Ball, in Anaheim. Anyone who knows, knows that that location is right where the Local Church main offices were in Southern California. I used to run into those people all the time. Added to their heterodoxy, the Local Church engages in very strong conditioning practices for its members. And of course added to all of this is the fact that a CRI board member, Paul Young, whom Hank brought down from CRI Canada, (when there was a CRI Canada-now it just exists to process donations to funnel them down to CRI in the lower 48.) is a member of the Local Church, and has been so for a substantial period of time. If that isn’t a conflict of interest, what could be? (Hank is also a co-owner of Young’s 4800 sq ft million dollar home in North Carolina as well.) Given that the Orthodox Christian Network carries the BAM show (for free I might add), now Orthodox are directly exposed to this spiritually and theologically dangerous sect thanks to Hank. I hate to say it, but I told you so.
In connection with the above is an apparent problem. With the failure of Hank’s bone marrow transplant and the much greater likelihood that he will not survive long, who is to take over CRI when he is gone? Sources indicate that Michael O’Fallon of Soverign Cruises has left the CRI board sometime last year. There has emerged no heir apparent and there really is no one left of the original research staff to take over. Elliot Miller who is the only one left of that crew has recently revealed that he has been diagnosed with metastasized bone cancer. And Warren Nozaki, JP Holding, and others seem like minor figures, ill equipped for diverse reasons to be the head of the ship.
Recently after having talked to former members of the Local Church, the worry has emerged that the Local Church may buy CRI from Hank as his personal end becomes apparent and run it as one of its ministerial arms, which would be a disaster as far as Martin’s legacy is concerned, not to mention the fact that it would extend the reach of the Local Church. Given that Paul Young is on the CRI board and is CRI’s chief operating officer and makes no mean salary of 140k doing so, it is not all that improbable. Lord, have mercy!
The Fish Stinks from the Head
Also of note, Hank not only attended but spoke at the the 3rd International Conference on Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. which as you can see has no small number of influential and powerful people both within and without the Orthodox Church. Hank also receives an award from no less than Archbishop Demetrios himself, (starting at the 13 min mark) apparently for all of Hank’s “work” on behalf of persecuted Christians in
the Middle East. Hank says on his own show that he gave the keynote address, but that is just flat out false if you look at the conference roster. Honestly, I don’t think his Eminence has any idea who Hank really is, but I think his handlers have done him a great disservice by not protecting him from a grifter. Apparently none of them can use Google.
So far as Hank’s apparent work on behalf of persecuted Christians, as far as I can tell, all Hank has done is talk about it on his show to promote his book on Islam and offer virtue signaling pins, all for a donation. It is not as if, as far as I know, Hank has championed some massive fundraiser for IOCC, Doctors Without Borders, or given away millions of his own hoard for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. So far as I can see, it is a Pyrrhic award. Everything Hank has done here is rather financially self serving. This includes including a free copy of his book on Islam to the conference attendees in their registration materials. It’s just good marketing. As far as the speech goes, it is all the usual Hankisms. If you have listened to the BAM show for more than a week, nothing there should be new to you.
Lastly, what is significant is that Hank has mapped and plugged into the power structure of the Greek Archdiocese and moved into a highly visible and influential position…all in under nine months. That by itself should be not a bit disconcerting. This is consistent with his past behavior of positioning himself by schmoozing with movers and shakers into a position of power and influence. If he had converted and retired and perhaps apologized for past wrongs, I might have said nothing at all (nor would I have had any grounds to do so). But true to form, Hank has moved to entrench himself within the power structure to funnel financial resources to his pockets all the while rejecting biblical commands and protocols for repentance and reconciliation.
If you’re Orthodox and are troubled by Hank’s presence on OCN and other venues, well now is the time to actually do something about it. Feel free to write to the appropriate clerics and bishops that oversee OCN to express your concerns.
Just remember, whenever you give to CRI, this is where your money goes, Hank’s country club estate.
Addendum: I noted above that Hank said on his show that he was the keynote speaker but that this was false. It had been asked of his staff on his FB page why he said he was but as far as the roster goes, he is not listed as the keynote speaker for the conference. They seemed not to know how to answer. After taking another look at the video, he is introduced as the keynote speaker for that morning (at 13:15), whereas the impression Hank appears to give on the FB live sessions is that he was the keynote speaker of the Conference. Keynote or not, it is at least unwise to elevate a new convert in this way.