A Divided Dividing Line: James White and the Hankamess

August 2, 2018

Mark 3:25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

I. Introduction: The Good, the Bad, and the UglyImage result for good the bad and the ugly

This will be my last substantive post about the Hankamess and it will be a long one. (I will open comments but they will still be moderated.)

For those who may not want to wade through everything, the post is divided into three main sections. Section two takes a romp through James White’s criticisms of Orthodoxy noting what I think he gets right (The Good). Section three (The Bad) provides analysis and replies to his criticisms of Orthodoxy and sometimes even of Hank. Section four (the Ugly) discusses the role James White and other well-known apologists played in Hank’s rise to power.

II. The Good
III. The Bad
IV. The Ugly

After this, I am moving on with my life, as I did nearly thirty years ago. For about the last year, I have chronicled the Hankamess resulting from Hank Hanegraaff’s reception into the Orthodox Church. I have also tried to sketch for readers the main points along the Hankamess timeline leading up to that reception, from 1989 forward. For many good and interesting reasons, I haven’t been able to present all the information, respond to every argument or tell everyone’s story who has been involved in it. I have also made Image result for gandalf little fellow in a wide worldsome mistakes along the way. There are things I could have done better. As to my standing in this whole drama though, honestly, I have always been a very small person, a hobbit of sorts, in a much bigger drama. I have only tried to tell the truth and do what is right regardless of the consequences to me.

In the main, things went as I expected them to, though at one point, God threw me a curve ball I did not expect. Hank has behaved in the way I said he would, shrugging off any calls for the slightest repentance or an apology. He immediately began working his way into the power structures of the Church, presenting himself as a “teacher” to financially benefit his Protestant private business. I know many did not believe me when I laid out this narrative in the beginning, but over a year later, it is frankly now indisputable. I told you so.Image result for garak meme

I did not expect Hank to fall to his knees and offer an apology. It wasn’t that this was impossible, but given thirty years of consistent lying and graft I judged it to be improbable. There remains a hope, but in the main I hold it as a fool’s hope. (He still has my cellphone number and the contact information for many other people.) His repentance for public wrongs would not only benefit his salvation, but his many victims as well, some who unlike me, still suffer serious consequences stretching into eternity. They are part of the reason why I have done what I have. “Many of these trees were my friends.”

I’ve Got A Little List

That said, Hank didn’t get to his Benny Hinn lifestyle all by himself. He had help and lots of it. And he had help from people who not only should have known better but I believe did know better. They were, for a very long time in a position to do what was right. The majority of them self-designate as apologists and make their livelihood based on claims of expertise to evaluate arguments and evidence and discern truth from error. It’s their job to point out fakes and sound the alarm. They are well known and some pride themselves on defending the “purity of the Gospel.” But instead of doing the very least that was morally required, they chose rather to ingratiate themselves with Hanegraaff for their own personal profit. And they did so all the while their brothers and sisters in Christ were losing their jobs, losing their homes, dying of cancer or having a crisis of faith to the point of denying Christ Himself. In what follows, I name names and bring out the role they played in the past. What they did in the past was wrong and their attempt to profit from that deception now, is also wrong.

Now, after Hank’s reception into the Orthodox Church they have broken out in a few different directions. Some continue to ingratiate themselves with Hank to promote their products. Others have tried to occupy a no man’s land between where their theological commitments are and where their financial interests lie. They’re Protestant and critique Catholic and Orthodox beliefs and practices, except when its Hank. Others by contrast have positioned themselves as the de facto and true “Bible Answer Man” decrying Hank’s lapse into heresy, offering critiques of Orthodoxy along the way. Chief among these is James White, famed Reformed Baptist apologist and debater.

Over the course of the last year or so, James White (and some of his ministerial associates at “Alpha and Omega Ministries”) has offered a series of videos criticizing Orthodoxy and Hank Hanegraaff. Here I place them in temporal order (One, Two, Three, Four Five, and Six. )In the interests of time and labor, I don’t index remarks by White (and others), but the video links provided are I believe sufficient.

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The Wizard of Straw

September 20, 2017

Sometime ago I wrote a short presentation on an objection to Sola Scriptura and the response given to it. I constructed that presentation to deliberately leave out specific questions and counter objections. And this was because it was meant for a discussion group. I left material out to create space for those questions and counter objections to come out in the course of discussion.  I posted it because I thought the central insight would prove Image result for wizard of oz scarecrowprofitable for those thinking about the formal principle of the Reformation.

Posting such things is also a way to throw them out and see how they play. I’ve been hearing whispers here and there that various Reformed folks have been asked to address it. Recently Patrick Hines has chosen to engage it. Mr. Hines is apparently a Reformed pastor of sorts.  In the interests of full disclosure, I had contacted privately because of his efforts to critique Hanagraaff. I inquired whether we might collaborate. After being met with denunciations of apostasy and calls for my immediate repentance to “believe the true Gospel” it became apparent that that was a no go.  Having looked over Mr. Hines’ other material I didn’t think there was anything there worthwhile to engage. Too many egregious mistakes and not enough pay off to make a response worthwhile. Mr. Hines is so adept at creating strawmen that he should be rightly donned a wizard of said fallacy.

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Are You Flying Solo?

May 25, 2017

Below is a short presentation I wrote this year for a discussion group I attend locally from time to time. I do not attempt to answer everything here or address objections. IImage result for flying solo specifically designed this piece to facilitate discussion so as to allow various objections to come out in due course. I did write it as part of a larger argument because I think it gets to the heart of the matter concerning Reformation disputes. That is, the argument is not over epistemological issues (how can we know the correct interpretation of scripture?) but rather normative issues (what interpretation of scripture is binding or obligatory?) So I think that framing the matter in this way helps to clear away much of the confusion over the Reformation’s formal distinctive that is left untouched by most discussions of this topic. I hope you find it profitable.

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Sola Scriptura and Pope Gregory the Great

August 3, 2012

On occasion Protestant writers and apologists make claim for their theological distinctives as being found in the fathers. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is one such case where a good many citations are brought forward to establish that this doctrine is nothing novel. And so Protestantism is introducing nothing new in advocating for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.  The two major works from which practically all contemporary Protestant cases directly or indirectly depend on are by Whitaker and Goode. If you have read them (I have) there really isn’t much else to read.

One father who is advanced for the case of Sola Scriptura is Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Gregory is usually enlisted to support a few parts of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, scripture as the ultimate authority, its material sufficiency and perspicuity. The following citations are some of the usual suspects.

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The Reformation as Ockham’s Revenge

September 23, 2011

“Another doctrinal current made its appearance in the Middle Ages, Duns Scotus being its outstanding exponent. He taught that the acts of the penitent-contrition, confession, satisfaction-though integral, are not essential parts of the sacrament of penance.  The only essential is the absolution in respect of the sins, the three acts of penitence being only the signs of it. Futhermore, he understood the efficacy of the sacrament in the sense of a remission of the fault and of the penalty. The forgiveness of sins does not result immediately from absolution; absolution provokes a certain disposition, and it is this disposition which, through God’s promise, calls forth forgivness.

Concerning contrition, he shows that there exist two ways of justification (in the scholastic sense): one, contrition (superior attrition), can dispense with the sacrament; the other, attrition, suffices for the remission of sins in the sacrament.  In connection with the discipline of confession he is less strict concerning its obligatory nature, holding that it is obligatory, by divine precept, only in the case of those in danger of death and as a preparation for certain duties requiring purity.

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The Heresy of Calvinism II

August 2, 2010

Calvinism, as was said previously, is a very elastic term. Broadly, it is a movement that has its origins in Zurich, and refined through Geneva. Often it is seen as flowering in the Puritan and Presbyterian movements in England, though much of the Puritan mind was drawn from Zurich from Heinrich Bullinger and Peter Martyr Vermigli, among others. But Bullinger, Martyr and Calvin were largely of one mind on most issues, the Eucharist excepted. The origin of the term seems to have come from its Catholic interlocutors, most notably Thomas Stapleton, though the word generally used was Calvinian. This helps us little in defining what it is. It is one of those words like liberal or conservative, though I don’t think quite so. Here, and especially here, I will give it the meaning of those who believe in forensic justification, effected in the Christian through the decree of God without reference to any faith, or faith foreseen. This definition would certainly take in not only Calvin, but also Martyr and Bullinger, and as well Melanchthon (though Luther is problematic, but not for the reasons the new Finnish interpretation of Luther teaches). Read the rest of this entry »


Prelude to “Heresy of Calvinism II”

August 2, 2010

The completion of HoC2 was delayed by the frivolities of a weekend wedding (and some really good homebrews – – especially the cider ales – – that the lord and lady served), and a necessary Sunday afternoon with my dear friend Guillaume (and some outstanding Canadian imports).  But, I have cleared my decks for action (I have also been distracted by Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series), and shall have the promised piece  up by late this afternoon. Nonetheless, to whet everyone’s palette, please note the following quotes (all from Calvin’s Institutes, II.17). As you read them, keep in mind the simple words of our father among the Saints, St. Maximos the Confessor: “Virtues are natural things.”

The whole of Calvin’s II.17 is but six sub-chapters, and is worth looking at, but what I shall be sailing into are pretty much these waters. Read the rest of this entry »


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